Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Joe and Edith Burgos love story

The Joe and Edith 
Burgos love story

This Valentine’s season, Wagas features the love story of the late journalist Joe Burgos and his wife Edith.

An Education graduate from Bicol, Edith has always wanted to become a nun. When she was about to pursue this dream after college, her father convinced her to go to Manila and take up a Master’s Degree instead.

There she met Joe Burgos, a reporter friend of her sibling, who was then doing a research on Bicol. With Edith as one of Joe’s interviewees, the lad couldn’t help falling for her despite her plans of becoming a nun.

Joe chose to pursue Edith. He attended mass with her, wrote poems for her, cooked for her, and showered her with flowers. He even visited her in Bicol whenever Edith comes home for a vacation.

Edith, for her part, admired Joe especially for his patriotism and his being a fearless journalist during the Marcos regime. After two years, Joe asked Edith to marry him and she gladly agreed.

Getting married marked the beginning of an even more colorful chapter in their lives. Together, they experienced hardships, relationship threats because of their chosen profession, and fear of separation and even death in fighting for their beliefs.

Featuring Ina Feleo and Yul Servo, witness the enduring power of love of Joe and Edith Burgos, as written and directed by Adolf Alix, Jr., in a special two-part Valentine offering of Wagas this February 14 and February 21, 7PM, only on GMA News TV. /MP



Over 100,000 students from 332 public schools from the provinces of Guimaras, Antique, and Iloilo in Western Visayas will benefit again from truckloads of imported books from AAMBIS-Owa Partylist and a non-government organization beginning on February 18. (Are Aklan and Negros Occidental parts of Western Visayas? They have no share of the books.)

The $46,000 (US Dollar) book donation was made possible by AAMBIS-Owa Partylist Representative Sharon S. Garin in partnership with NGO Children International Philippines, Inc. (CIPI).

Book donations came from the United States through the initiative of Rep. Garin who also takes care of the logistics to make the book donations accessible even to far-flung barangays.

Rep. Garin and CIPI are partners in providing books for public school pupils since 2012. They have distributed a total of 60,000 books since then. This year they will provide an additional 60,000 books to mostly impoverished students in the Visayas.

Books delve on different subjects of Math, Science, Arts, Literature, History, and other subjects.

Department of Education (DepEd) District Supervisor Daisy Villasis of Sibunag, Guimaras appreciates the donation for the children. “These donated books supplement the effort made by the national government to provide free basic education to our youth. These donations mean a lot to us as it reduces our students’ daily struggle with shortage of reference and textbook materials.”

The public schools in Guimaras are the first of the 332 schools to receive donations. Turn-over ceremonies will happen on February 18 at Jordan San Miguel Elementary School, Jordan and at Buenavista Central Elementary School,  Buenavista.

Rep. Garin thanks the CIPI with this collaboration and the DepEd officials for their cooperation in ensuring that the books will reach as many students as possible. /MP



Amid public outcry over the Mamasapano incident, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay this week said an all-out war must be avoided.

He stressed that any peace agreement should be in consonance with existing laws, particularly the Constitution.

The Vice President also reiterated his call to form an independent fact-finding commission to investigate the incident to dispel all doubts that the investigations are merely a “cover-up”.

Binay also rejected calls for President Benigno Aquino III to resign. You know, I am the vice president. Let us just wait. I am hoping and praying that the President will overcome this problem very soon,” he said.

Binay also supported bids to raise the hazard pay of police officers in the light of the incident, but said the decision is up to the President.

Binay handed P20,000 cash benefits from Pag-IBIG to the families of slain Special Action Force troopers PO1 Windel Candano and PO1 Romeo Cempron, both from Cebu, after the mass wedding.  

The cash benefit came from the accumulated savings and dividends of the deceased in Pag-IBIG, along with their death benefits.

As chair of the government housing sector, Binay also said they are studying the possibility of providing housing and other benefits for families of the SAF members killed and injured in action.

The dependents of the Fallen 44 and the 15 survivors were also offered scholarships at the University of Makati (UMak). /MP

Reason and Concern

BBL Deliberations Snagged

In what appears to be an expected mature and intelligent deliberations when the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) draft law was transmitted to Congress for deliberations now appears to be snagged by the Mamasapano Jan. 25 incident.

Already, several members of  the Philippine congress in both houses have either withdrawn support to the favorable passage of the BBL.

Members of Congress who were adamant in their desire to have the BBL bill passed in the interest of peace are now having a change of mind after the violence that claimed the lives of the Fallen 44.

Knowing the several decades of violence in Muslim Mindanao, our countrymen  have collectively hope for peace.

It may not be amiss to state here that several new investors in Mindanao have reconsidered their interest to invest. 

It is fundamental for investors to consider water and electricity, communications, and peace and order.
We can only wish and hope that the BBL shall pass for this country that we love and for our youth and children.
*    *    *
The Purisima resignation should not be left without comments. Suspended by the Ombudsman for six months, here was General Purisima directing operations in the Mamasapano, Maguindanao Jan. 25 operations.

The Phiippine National Police is under the jurisdiction of  our civil service laws. But here is a suspended police general still performing functions and giving orders! Strange!
*    *    *
53 years  ago, a friend who has already  gone to the  Great Beyond gave me  Rolando Carbonell’s collection of poems titled “Beyond Forgetting”.

Boys my age would oftentimes recite the poem Beyond Forgetting. Unfortunately, the book was  borrowed by a close friend who  lost it during a drinking spree. Nonetheless, I had the poem typed and kept after I borrowed a book of the same title from  a friend.

Here’s Beyond Forgetting:

For a moment I thought I could forget you.
For a moment I thought I could still the restlessness in my heart.
I thought the past could no longer haunt me- nor hurt me.
How wrong I was!
For the past, no matter how distant, is as much a part of me as life itself.
And you are part of that life. You are so much a part of me of my dreams, my early hopes, my youth and my ambitions- that in all tasks I can’t help remembering you.
Many little delights and things remind me of you. Yes. I came.  And would my pride mock my real feelings? Would the love song, the sweet and lovely smile on your face, be lost among the deepening shadows?
I have wanted to be alone. I thought I could make myself forget you in silence and in song...And yet I remembered.
For who could forget the memory of the once lovely, the once beautiful, the once happy world such as ours?
I came because that song I kept through the years is waiting to be sung. I cannot sing it without you. The song when sung alone will lose the essence of its tune, because you and I had been one.
I have wanted this misery to end, because it is part of my restlessness. Can’t you understand? Can’t you divine the depth and tenderness of my feelings towards you?
Yes, can’t you see how I suffer in this even darkness without you?
You went away because you mistook my silence for indifference. But, silence my dear is the language of my heart.
How could I essay the intensity of my love when silence speaks a more eloquent tone? But perhaps, you didn’t understand...

Remember, I came because the gnawing loneliness is there and will be lost until the music is sung, until the poem is heard, until the silence is understood... until you come to me again.

For you alone can blend music and memory into one consuming ecstasy. You alone.
*     *     *
In our time and when Valentine’s Day comes, you can expect some young men writing love letters to their love ones. Or sending Valentine’s cards. 

I can fully remember them reciting Elizabeth Barret Browning’s immortal poem How Do I Love Thee?
Here’s the  poem:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every  day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;   
I love thee purely as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose  
With my lost saints,---I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and if God choose, 
I shall  but love thee better after death. /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda

Si Malikit Ag Rong Balyena
Ni Tita Linda Belayro

Si malikit hay unga it isaeang ka mangingisda. Paborito nana nga aeagtonan ro tago nga uengib sa pihak nga isla.

Isaeang adlaw, nagpanaw ro anang ama sa pihak nga isla. Nagsakay imaw sa anang maisot nga baroto ag nagpadueong sa paboritong uengib. Nagtener imaw sa uengib samtang nagaeobog sa maeapad nga bato. Bangod sa kaga-oy sa pagbinugsay, nakatoeogan imaw. Owa nana napan-uhi nga taob eon ag nagtinaas rong tubi. May nag-abot nga mga siokoy ag guindaea imaw sa idauem sa kaharian it mga kataw. 

Pagbugtaw nana, idto eota imaw sa tunga it mga kataw. Nag-abot rong Reyna it mga kataw ag boot imaw nga boe-on bilang prinsesa. Mabuhay eon gali imaw nga guinabinantayan kada adto nana sa uengib. Nakikita imaw sa bolang kristal nga guinahuptan it Reyna. Haum eon rong tanan. Guinkoronahan imaw bilang prinsesa. Nagpasugot si Malikit tungod owa imaw it natandaan ko anang nakataliwan. Malipayon rong tanan sa kaharian, eabi guid rong Reyna. Sunod rong nailaan ni Malikit ag maka-pagusto imaw it pamasyar puera eamang ro pagsueod sa kwarto nga itom ro puertahan nga guina bawaean ro tanan.

Tumaliwan ro mga inadlaw. Naduea man rong kahigayunan nga makita si Malikit ko anang guinikanan. Guina eauman nga guinkaon imaw it mabahoe nga isda o kundi naeonod imaw ag dinagsa sa mga kabatuhan hasta naeonot ro anang eawas. Samtang padayon bilang prinsesa si Malikit, naanad imaw sa pasikot sikot it kaharian. Hasta nakita nana rong kwarto nga itom ro puertahan. 

Guin samitan nana nga buksan ogaling masyadong matig-a. May nakita imaw nga tuktukon nga yabe sa ibabaw it mataas nga bato. Anang guin saka ag samitan nga abrehan ro puertahan. Nabuksan. Nakita nana rong botelya sa ibabaw it bato. Sa anang pagkawhat, nahueog rong botelya sa saeog ag na-oea rong sueod nga eana. 

Amat-amat nga nagbalik ro anang nakataliwan. Nahidlaw imaw sa anang pamilya. Dali dali imaw it guwa sa sekreto nga puertahan hasta nakaabot sa bukana it uengib. Nakita nana ro anang maisot nga baroto nga guin kamoyan eon it mga tanum nga halimunon. May nagpakita nga mabahoe nga balyena. Imaw gali ro nagtago sa baroto agod indi makita it mga tawo. May masakyan si Malikit sa anang pag-uli. Owa ngani naka eayo it mayad si Malikit, una eon ro mga siokoy naga eagas kana agod ibalik sa kaharian. Guintoeod ko balyena ro baroto hasta nakaabot sa pangpang. Nakauli imaw sa anda. Nagkita sanda ko anang mga guinikanan.

Owa it katapusan ro soguilanon hanungod sa pagkaduea ag pagkakita kay Malikit. Bangod sa pagdali-dali ni Malikit, owa nana nahubad ro anang korona nga puro perlas. Guin baligya nanda rong perlas ag rong kabakeanan hay guin gasto sa pagpatindog it baeay ag tindahan. Nagkabuhi it normal si Malikit kaibahan ko anang pamilya. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Living In Style Maybe Ugly
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

One Sunday morning last week, I was standing in front of a grocery store in Poblacion, Kalibo. I was waiting for a ride. It did not take long but suddenly, a new black car stopped in my front.

A woman, of middle age came out of the car. She stands about five feet, two inches high. She is plump and of very white complexion. She was wearing a white blouse with colar, matched with a very short pair of maong pant which covers about four (4) inches from her pelvis. Almost all her legs toward her feet are exposed.

There is no question of her beauty. She is pretty. However, her legs are almost filled-up with varicose vein which, at a distance, her legs are covered with blue and white that appears unpleasant to the eyes.

It could have been preferable if she wore long pant to cover her legs and upper limbs. Living in style is admirable but one becomes ugly if the style does not fit a person.

Criminals Are Active

There is a series of hold-ups committed in Kalibo, Aklan. Last week, a night class teacher was held-up on her way home from the school. The three motorcycle riding hold-uppers forcibly took her bag containing money, school records and other valuables.

There is a need for the members of the Philippine National Police to intensify their efforts in protecting peace and prevent criminality in Aklan.

Drug Pusher Arrested

Andy Oroceo, a 37 year old native of barangay Libas, Roxas City was arrested in Boracay, Malay, Aklan for alleged pushing of illegal drugs. He fell into the dragnet the Aklan Provincial Anti-illegal drugs Special Operations Task Group and the Boracay Tourist Assistance Center put up in Sitio Ambulong, Barangay Manoc-manoc. A poseur buyer bought two sachets of suspected shabu for P1,000 from Oroceo. Confiscated from Oroceo were six sachets of suspected shabu, drug paraphernalia, and cell phone. He is now facing charges for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Breast Feeding Babies

For the lactating mothers, breastfeed your babies. According to a research finding, babies who are breastfed have lower arsenic exposure. The powder and water used to formulate baby formula maybe the source of arsenic which occurs naturally in the environment. In large doses, it is linked to serious health problems, the researchers wrote in the Environmental Health Perspective journal.

Kathryn Cottingbam, one of the researchers, advised parents who need to use formula to feed their infants to pay attention to the water they use to make baby formula. Cottingbam, who works at the Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research at Dartmouth College. Hanover, New Hampshire advises parents to test their water. She noted that arsenic occurs naturally in bedrock and is a common contaminant of well water.

Breast milk does not contain high level of arsenic even if mothers have been exposed to high levels of the element.

The study was done in January 2009. The researchers analyzed urine samples from 6-week-old babies in New Hampshire of pregnant women recruited for the study. Of the 72 babies in the study, 70 percent received only breast milk, 13 percent received only formula, and 17 percent received a combination of the two.

Finding shows that infants fed only with formula had the highest concentrations of arsenic in their urine, followed by those who received formula and breast milk. Those who were fed exclusively with breast milk has the lowest levels of arsenic in their urine.

These above findings if headed and recommendation followed, will help reduce our imports of milk and milk products as the Philippines is importing 95 percent of our milk consumption annually. It is very healthful and economical to feed babies with mothers’ milk. /MP


Is Aklan Ready For ASEAN 
Economic Integration?
by Ernesto T. Solidum

“Enhancing Aklan’s Competency for Asean Integration” is the topic of the weekly Kapihan held last week at NVC Carmen Hotel. The guests are: Dr. Jesse M. Gomez, Schools Div. Supt., DepEd Aklan, Dr. Julius Jamero, Prov’l. Director TESDA, Rosalinda Regalado, DTI and Hon. Plaridel Morania – SP Aklan member.

ASEAN was founded in 1967, originally composed of five countries namely: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Later, five more countries joined the bandwagon: Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Brunei. ASEAN aims to create a region of peace, freedom and prosperity. It is envisioned to cover 600 million people, achieve GDP of $2 trillion and the 7th largest economy in the world. The ASEAN Economic Community will establish single market, production base, and develop highly competitive region.

The targeted growth are on agri-aqua and forestry-based products, tourism, electronics, textiles, apparels, health care, and services. The International Monetary Fund forecasts averaged GDP growth of 4.5 percent in the leading countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

In 1989 ASEAN has forged inter-regional economic cooperation with 21 Pacific rim countries (APEC), hence the Ministerial and Technical Working Group meetings in Boracay scheduled on September 28 to October 26, 2015. Event will discuss the agenda on food security.

Dr. Gomez noted that strategy toward competency of Aklan for ASEAN Integration is the implementation of Enhanced Education Act of 2013 or RA 10533. This means 12 years basic education instead of the usual 10 years. It should be noted that almost all countries of the world are having this set-up. Kids will have 1 year kindergarten, 6 years elementary, 4 years junior and 2 years senior high school to specialize skills in tech voc, literature and arts, science and humanities said Gomez.

DTI’s program is geared mainly on strengthening SME’s through market promotions, leveraging industries for supply chain, product development and share service facility, disclosed Ms. Regalado. Our trade fair and exhibits display encapsulizes the “One Town One Product” (OTOP) strategy participated in by small and medium entrepreneurs. Our “Go Negosyo Center” will open in April 2015 and will cater to clients who will start their own business whose products are in big demand, affordable and of high quality.

Director Jamero underscored the need to empower our educational institutions by realigning the curriculum (K+12) and training regulations. TESDA offers 300 technical skills, produced 6 million graduates for the last 20 years. More than half have successfully passed the competency test and 65 percent of our graduates are fully employed.

It is noted that a considerable percentage of the labor force lack diligence and behavioral attitude but this can be overcome by proper training. Our problem in tech voc courses is usually poor communication skills.

We have oversubscribed degree courses in HRM, Nursing and Education that largely contribute to 80 percent of them frustrated in finding jobs. Window of opportunity could be taking up tech voc courses, pass the competency test and apply for overseas employment, Dr. Jamero emphasized.

Competency is synonyms to competitiveness. It is based on strength of government institutions, infra, health and other services, labor and goods, market efficiency, market size, technical capacity and sophistication of the business sector. Based on 2012-13 Global Competitiveness Report, China ranked 69th while the Philippines is 98th. China’s Progressive economy is largely due to massive investments in transport infra.

Given that we are implementing K+12 education plan our level of competency will be known after 2016. Presently, DepEd is besieged by shortage of teachers, classrooms, basic textbooks and high pupil dropout.

Despite its sustained GDP growth of 6.8 percent in 2012, 7.2 percent in 2013 and 6.1 percent in 2014, practically 60 percent of Philippine population is poor and 40 percent food-starve. Data show that 36 percent of pupils drop out of school in elementary while only 40 percent graduate from high school. DepEd budget in 2015 is the highest, P365 billion. This can elevate teaching competencies of teachers but our basic education fails miserably in satisfactory performance in Science and Mathematics. Our low test scores vis-avis other Asean countries suggest need to re-orient our curriculum to the basics and droping unnecessary ones. For instance, DepEd needs to exclude sports since this is part of the agenda of the Philippine Sports Commission.

Meanwhile, a London-based organization – Quacquaelli Synod Intelligence Unit reported that 4 of our best universities in the country in 2012 got low ratings compared to previous years. UP dropped to 68th from 62nd, Ateneo de Manila University – 86th from 65th, De la Salle University – 142nd from 107th and UST – 148th from 107th.

The Philippines is characterized by a small manufacturing sector, low investment and the presence of several imbalances – uneven productivity across sectors, huge output gaps between large corporations and SME’s and unbalanced geographical distribution of income.

The recommendation of European Chamber of Commerce and Industry is for Philippine craftsmen to have additional 1 ½ to 2 years apprenticeship before employment in manufacturing jobs. Government is urged to pursue new industrial policy in view of ASEAN Integration. DTI has come up with a list of competitive products namely: copper ore, raw tobacco, vegetables, textile fibers, knitted clothing, machinery products, and chemical products.

Boracay, being one of international cruise ships destination, products recommended are: coco sugar, malunggay tea, San Miguel beer, fresh Philippine mangoes and bananas. About 10-12 cruise ships dock at Caticlan Jetty Port every year.

Pres. Aquino has signed RA 10641 or Act Liberizing the Entry and Scope of Operation of Foreign Banks in the Philippines. Credit is necessary for infra, product identification technology transfer, post harvest facilities, market access and producing the goods.

Ironically, Land Bank of the Philippines created by law to address the needs of local farmers and CARP beneficiaries allots only 36 percent of its loan portfolio to agriculture, agribusiness and agri-related projects while 64 percent to other sectors – energy, housing, transportation and SME’s. The bank justifies its policy because of fiduciary responsibility to its private sector creditors.

Annual report of LBP in 2013 shows: of the P729 billion loan for farmers and fisher-folks only 1.8 percent was released. For the production sector, out of P5 billion, only 0.1 percent was availed.

Considering the poor accessibility of small stakeholders to formal credit, strong recommendation are to: a) simplify Feasibility Studies to filing banks, b) provision of enough staff members to assist farmers/fisher-folks, c) reduce number of required documents in banking, and d) reduce from 36 to 5 working days in loan processing and transaction. 

Enhancing global competitiveness requires guts and skills. It needs steps. 

Is Aklan prepared for the ASEAN Economic Integration this year? /MP 

AKLAN TRULY HAS LEVELLED UP* (1st of four parts)

(1st of four parts)

*State of the Province Address of Hon. Florencio T. Miraflores, Governor of Aklan delivered during the Regular Session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan, held on Wednesday morning, February 4, 2015 at the SP Session Hall, Capitol, Estancia, Kalibo.

Hon. Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo, Honorable members of the Sanguniang Panlalawigan, Aklan Representative Teodorico T. Haresco, Jr., distinguished guests, fellow workers in government, ladies and gentlemen:

Abu gid nga saeamat sa inyo nga presensya makaron nga adlaw. Dahil makaron nga adlaw, mabahoe ro aton nga inugpasaeamat ag inugpabugae bilang mga Akeanon.

Let me preface this state of the province address with a very relevant qoute: “there is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, achievable vision for the future, widely shared.”

I presumed that it holds true for all successful organizations and governments, but i am most certain that it is also true in our case. A participatory, united and shared leadership has done wonders for Aklan.

The beginning of our term last July 2013 was supported with the mind-set of shared leadership with the Sanguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan. We have done right by having executive-legislative unity. This, we sustained and capitalized in our endeavors and it has reaped so much for Aklan in such a short time.

My sincere gratitude to the honorable presiding officer and members of the august body for 284 resolutions, 10 general ordinances, 14 special ordinances, 2 tax ordinances, and 7 appropriation ordinances.
Without fear of contradiction, we have gone a long way as province because of our shared vision and our united leadership.

Our Aklan is now known and recognized as a major contributor to the country’s economy. Our “smallness” in terms of political value compared with vote-rich provinces, did not hinder our climb to the big-league.

This administration is a consistent top performer in local governance in the region and has very well maintained our status as a top favorite tourist destination of all generations, social economics standing, and nationality.

Yes, we are one among the big boys in making sure that our country stays vibrant, and our government, responsive to the needs of its people.

In the lingo of our young Akeanons, Aklan truly has “leveled-up”.

The status of our beloved Aklan as the province with the highest contribution of locally-sourced income among the country’s 81 provinces in the amount of Php 491.75 million to the total regular income of Php 1.09 billion, was not achieved overnight. Neither did it happen through providential twist of fate.

For a small province with a locally-sourced income comprising up to 45 percent of its total earnings, clearly it can be attributed to nothing but a phenomenal concerted effort by our people and our government workers. Compare this with the average local earnings of other provinces which is 10 to 15 percent.

As a province, we embarked on an ambitious journey together, and braved the rough roads together.

Dungan kitang nagtibyog sa paghandum ag sa pagtinguha nga maabot naton ro presente nga estado it atong Akean. Dungan kitang nagplano, dungan kitang nag-implementar, dungan kitang nag-agi sa kalisud it kakueangan it pundo ag suporta, ag dungan man kita nga nakabangon ag naging madinaeag-on.

Indeed, the provincial government’s desire to stay true to its mandate in broadening its own sources of revenue did not go unnoticed by the department of finance and has earned national respect.

We started 2014 with good news, one million three hundred sixty three thousnad six hundred eleven tourist arrival for 2013.

That 13.33 percent increase was achieved despite super typhoon Yolanda. Such positive indicator was enough reason for all of us in government and our tourism stakeholders to no longer dwell on our sad state but focus on our goals for the future.

Ngani kita tanan, nagdiretso sa pagtrabaho agud madali naton maabot rong kumpleto nga pagbangon.

We targeted 1.5 million tourist arrivals for 2014 and reached one million four hundred seventy two thousand, three hundred fifty two.

Our take on this statistic is not that we fell short of target but instead, that we triumphed despite man-made or natural adversities. An increase of over a hundred thousand, despite the september 2014 Chinese travel ban and numerous typhoon-related cancellations is enough reason for our province to be happy.

Sa gihapon, rong atong bugna nga isla, hay ha-enganyo rong mga bag-o, ag hapabalik rong mga dati nga turista halin sa ibang nasyon nga ginapangunahan it mga Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Americans ag Malaysians.

Translated into tourism receipts, visitor arrivals in 2014 as per Department of Tourism Region 6, was anle to generate a total of forty billion seven hundred five million thirteen thousand five hundred forty seven pesos.

We generated from the Caticlan port of the Philippine Ports Authority, environmental fee share, Cagban and Caticlan Jetty Ports, and Roro Terminal fee a total of two hundred ninety three million six hundred eighty seven thousand eighty four pesos and sixty six centavos. Not bad Akeanons, not bad at all. This significant tourism feat, we owe to all our tourism stakeholders from both government and private sector.

May I commend our provincial and municipal tourism operations officers and staff for a coordinated effort in year-round tourism promotions; our Caticlan and Cagban Jetty Ports and passenger terminal officials and staff for taking the extra steps in giving our valued tourists their much deserved travel convinience; our local government units chief executives, for initiating tourism-related activities and for investing towards its advancement in their respective municipalities; and our private tourism stakeholders, our resort and hotel owners, tour operators, transport operators, and other tourism business groups for ensuring that our clients have the best experience despite the past year’s natural circumstances.

Thank you everyone, for handling this delicate industry with care.

But with this shared achievement, it brings about again another shared challenge, the challenge of maintaining our lead as the country’s premier tourism destination.

Our Boracay island is now Asia’s new cruise haven as we received nine cruise ship visits last year. Of the figure, four are maiden visits from the world’s most luxurious cruise ship companies, Costa Victoria and Costa Atlantica of Costa Crociere, MS Europa 2 of Hapag Lloyd and MS the world. For 2014, the cruise visits brought a total nine thousand nine hundred seventy tourists and five thousand nine hundred fifty crew members to shores of Boracay. (to be continued next issue) /MP



Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, has filed a bill that seeks to raise the entry level compensation of registered nurses throughout the country to salary grade (SG) 15 for those working in government institutions. To those working in the private sector, an equivalent salary to SG 15 will be mandated.

Salary grade 15, step 1 is P24,887 per month salary.

Senate Bill No. 2538 provides for a comprehensive nursing law that will repeal the existing Republic Act 9173 enacted in 2002.

“To address the major challenges faced by Filipino nurses, this proposed bill seeks to institute measures towards relevant nursing practice, just and human conditions of work, and promotion of professional growth in accordance with the State policy to uphold the dignity of nurses and assume responsiblity for the protection, respect, and improvement of the nursing profession,” Sen. Guingona explained.
According to Sen. Guingona, he proposed the measure due to the increasing number of unemployed nurses as a result of the health system’s failure in determining and projecting human resource needs in and out of the country.

“Plantilla positions in public hospitals remain unfilled, making nurses vulnerable to exploitation and unfair labor practices. In recent years, nurses have been forced to work in job order or contractual terms. Many accept “volunteer” work or pay “training fees” just to be able to work. We need to correct this,” he said.

Sen. Guingona stressed that nurses are among those who play a critical role in achieving the intended goal of making health care services accessible to all Filipinos.

Under the bill, it proposes for the creation and composition of Professional Regulatory Board of Nursing that will supervise and regulate the practice of the profession, including the proper conduct of the Philippine Nurse Licensure Exams (PNLE). The Board will be likewise mandated to issue, suspend, revoke or reissue certificate of registration for the practice of nursing and ensure the widest publication through electronic and written media.

The bill also mandates all nurses to undertake continuing professional development (CPD). The Board shall provide a mechanism to continuously improve and enhance the nurses’ competence by updating them on the latest scientific, technological, ethical and other applicable trends in the local and global practice of nursing.

Likewise, the bill proposes that the Board, in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH), other concerned government and non-government institutions, association of hospitals and accredited professional organizations, to establish an incentive and benefit system in the form of free hospital care for nurses and their dependents, scholarship grants and other non-cash benefits. /MP

Modernize Agricultural And Biosystems Engineering

Modernize Agricultural  And 
Biosystems Engineering
The Senate last week passed on third and final reading a bill seeking to repeal Republic Act No. 8559, which governs the practice of agricultural engineering in the Philippines and make it more relevant and globally competitive.

According to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, the measure is important to give the Philippines an edge in developing and modernizing its agricultural sector. He stressed that the country’s agricultural workers “must strive to keep up with our competitors, in terms of methods and technologies employed.”

“Agriculture remains an integral part of our economic growth, and we must welcome every innovation to help agricultural workers who represent a third of the nation’s workforce, keep up with new regional or global market demands,” Drilon said.  

Trillanes underscored the need to update the law governing agricultural engineering, which he said was passed 17 years ago, to keep up with new technologies and global trend.

“After 17 years, there are new developments and transformation worldwide on the practice of agricultural engineering which necessitates the immediate updating of the law,” Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, sponsored and authored Senate Bill 2434.

Along with Trillanes, the bill was co-authored by Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

“We are now lagging behind US, Europe, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Agricultural engineering, as a profession, has transformed into agricultural and biosystems engineering,” he added. 

Unless the Philippines modernizes the practice of agricultural engineering, Trillanes warned, the agriculture sector will be adversely affected, especially with the commencement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration.

“Our agricultural sector, being part of the biosystem, is faced with threats from climate change, soil erosion and environmental degradation.  In order to cope with these challenges, it is necessary that our country has a strong, empowered and competitive Philippine agricultural and biosystems engineers,” he said.

Trillanes said accreditation of specialization for the practice of agricultural engineers such as agricultural meteorology and soil and water conservation will be established and institutionalized under the bill.

Agricultural meteorology refers to the study and application of relations between meteorology and agriculture while soil and water conservation is the management of soil to prevent or reduce soil erosion and depletion by wind and water, and the protection, development, and efficient management of water resources.

“These are all vital and important for food security and climate change mitigation program and shall be strengthened in the bill,” Trillanes said.

He said that the Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering presently being offered in 46 higher education institutions in the country would be transformed into B.S. Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering once the proposed bill will be enacted into law. 

He said the agricultural and biosystems engineering curriculum will be enhanced with masteral and doctoral degrees, including the tech-voc ladderized program on agricultural and biosystems engineering.

Agriculture and Bio-systems engineering is the application of engineering science and designs to the processes and systems involved in the sustainable production and post-production of safe food, feed, fiber, timber and other agricultural and biological materials and the efficient utilization, conservation and management of natural and renewable resources in order to enhance human health in harmony with the environment. /MP

68 Couples Wed In Civil Rites

68 Couples Wed In Civil Rites

In celebration of this year’s Civil Registration Month, the Municipality of Ibajay, in partnership with the Philippine Statistics Authority-Aklan, will hold a civil mass wedding inside the Ibajay Sports Complex on February 17, 2015.

About 68 couples coming from different barangays of the municipality will exchange “I do’s” during the civil wedding ceremony to be solemnized by Mayor Ma. Lourdes Miraflores. 

According to Mr. Elizer Sevilla, head of the local civil registry office of Ibajay, the said mass wedding is for indigent unwed couples to legalize their union as husbands and wives and subsequently their children to be legitimized.

On the other hand, Statistician Rodelyn Panadero, Officer-in-charge of the PSA-Aklan, said that the mass wedding will be a big help to lessen the number of couples who are in common-law relationship.

According to her and based on the 2010 census data, out of 21,236 persons who are living together in Aklan, more than 7 percent or 1,511 are in Ibajay. Those who practice live-in are mostly in 25-29 years old with 24.16 percent, followed by 20-24 years old with 24.02 percent and 30-34 years with 12.17.

“There are even 9 percent who are teenagers that practice common-law relationship in Ibajay. That’s why this free mass wedding is a big help to promote the welfare of their families and their children as well,” Mrs. Panadero said.

As words of advice, Mayor Miraflores encourages couples to become responsible parents to their children and remain faithful to their partners for better and for worst. She likewise stressed the importance of marriage as a foundation family. /MP

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Unique Protest Against Women 
Violence Scheduled On V-day
by Ernesto T. Solidum

“One Billion Rising” is the topic of the Weekly Kapihan recently at NVC Carmen Hotel. The Guests are Vice Gov. Billie Calizo Quimpo, Dr. Cornelio T. Cuachon – DRSTMH, Jesebel M. Vidal – Focal Person GAD-PPDO, Raul Adrian Pelayo and Amelito Farales – Vice Pres. And Pres. respectively of MOVE Aklan Chapter, SPO1 Babylen P. Daylusan - Kalibo PNP, Adelina C. Noynay – APPDO, P03 Claire M. Catuiran – Kalibo PNP, Dr. Glenda Martinez – DRSTMH, and Engr. Roger M. Esto – PPDO.

Vice Gov. Quimpo said that staggering statistics of one in every three persons will be beaten or raped during her lifetime constitutes a crime against humanity. With a world population of 7 billion, this means that roughly one billion are victimized by reason of poverty, racism and war. This must be immediately stopped.

The report of 841 filed cases by the Aklan Police Provincial Office – Women and Children Protection Desk for the period 2014 is higher by 30 percent compared to the previous year. Those responsible must be prosecuted and meted harsher penalties so women can live in safe and protected environment.

Gender Advocacy for Development (GAD) adopted by Aklan on December 12, 2003 envisions women accorded fair treatment by all sexes, elimination of sexual bias/discrimination and empowering women for responsible and constructive role in society. Although we may have successful info education campaign among our local population, we can still link with other countries globally numbering 200 in meaningful gesture of solidarity and cooperation said the Vice Governor Quimpo.

Ms. Vidal cited that the one billion and rising campaign originally started in the United States was launched on Valentine’s Day 2012 but the province of Aklan became a signatory only in 2013. With the ratification of GAD, it effectively coordinated personnel and resources of line agencies namely: PNP, DOH, DAR, DA, DENR, DILG, and DOJ. LGU. Aklan gave 5 percent of total budget or P45 million per year aside from foreign aid especially the Spanish government.

Due to the support we were able to establish “Daeangpan” Aklan – Comprehensive Center For Women, Child Protection Unit and Provincial Council for Women Engaged in Livelihood. A closed partnership with leading advocacy group – Men Oppose To Violence and Children (VAW-C) is now on its 4th year. Recently, the Philippine Commission on Women has recognized Aklan as one of five certified Learning Centers in the country, underscored Ms. Vidal.

Mr. Pelayo mentioned that the V-day mass protest at the Provincial Capitol unlike other demonstrations, will be marked by rousing street dancing, mob flash dancing in malls, parking lots and other public places. Everyone is enjoined to participate and carry out the banner of ending injustice to women, implementation of pertinent laws like RA 7877 – Anti Sexual Harassment, RA 8353 – Anti Rape Act, RA 9262 – Violence Against Women and RA 9208 – Anti Traficking in Persons Act.

Violence against women and children does not happen in a vaccum. The twin issues of poverty and parental neglect are very pathetic. The Social Weather Station final report of 2014 shows that poor families constitute 50.5 percent. On the other hand, food-poor families are 41 percent. Practically, our 7.2 percent GDP growth in 2013 and 6.1 percent in 2014 appear hollow in the light of circumstances.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2014 reported that unemployment is 6.0 percent while underemployment rose to 18.7 percent. Poverty incidence is rated high – 24.9 percent or one in every four Filipinos. Consequently, 3,000 Pinoys leave the country per day for foreign jobs. They are hailed as modern day heroes since without their hard earned dollars our economy will collapse.

About one in two households is headed by either one of the parents. The majority are husbands tending and bringing up their kids. Problem starts when Father molests his teenage daughters or commits incest. PNP record shows that of 17 cases against children from January 1 to November 15, 2014, seven sex offenders are listed at large and only under custody of ARC/BJMP.

As to 68 cases involving women, 31 or 45 percent are still at large. It appears that the PNP is inept or remiss in their sworn duties in rounding up sex offenders and incarcerating them.

Ending domestic violence could easily be effected if full employment opportunities are available to the working population. Here lies the key that the government and private sector failed miserably. For 2014 GDP growth, services accounted for 56.72 percent, manufacturing – 33.25 percent and agriculture – 10.03 percent. Basically, this is a skewed economy where consumer goods and farm products are acquired at very high cost. Necessarily we must strengthen the least two sectors if we want to generate a robust economy and achieve inclusive growth.

For practical purposes, why can’t we not resurrect the Progressive Car Manufacturing Program first started by the late Pres. Marcos? The concept is based on gradual replacement of mechanical parts by local artisans until such time a 100 percent Pinoy car model rolls off the assembly line. Many believed on the wisdom of launching industrialization by stages so complicated problems could easily be solved. At least Pinoy prototype jeepneys which seemed odd looking and fragile were produced but proved versatile under our ill-maintained country roads. However, all of a sudden the program stopped. What happened?

The Philippines has all the resources and manpower skills to go into full scale industrialization if it has the will to do so. Obviously, hindrance is high cost of power in manufacturing steel and car parts. If so, we should harness various energy sources as coal, gas, wind, hydro and geothermal energy until we are self sufficient in fuel requirements. At least our ace in the sleeve is the vast untapped geotherium deposits (mainly methane gas) in the Mindanao trench off the coast of Surigao.

Once liberated from poverty, the country could fully implement the salient provisions of GAD and the Reproductive Health Law. It should be noted that industrialized countries tend to limit family size since raising many children is no longer affordable. Meanwhile, let us not lose sight of permanent solutions, not band aid treatment against pervasive problem of violence against women. It is time to give more teeth to our laws. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

DA 6 Coordinates With LGUs 
On Project Implementation
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

The Department of Agriculture RFO 6 conducted recently a planning and budgeting workshop among local government units in Western Visayas to intensify the implementation of the different programs and projects.

“This Planning and Budgeting Workshop is one of the strategies of the DA in order to work harmoniously in the conduct of our programs and projects,” said DA-Regional Technical Director Manuel O. Olanday. “We have encountered different problems before. May this workshop helps us minimize and prevent backlogs in carrying out our projects in the municipal level,” he added.

The workshop is a proactive initiative of the DA wherein the thrusts and priorities are narrowed down to the municipal level. The municipal mayors, municipal agriculturists, provincial agriculturists, and other agricultural stakeholders who are directly linked to the implementation of the project attended.

The workshop is a venue for DA, local government units and congressional representatives to craft more coordinated proposals. Issues between DA and LGUs that affect the conduct of the project are ironed-out, as well. In order to strengthen the system, comments and suggestions from the participants are considered.
The lack of personnel in the LGU level and the liquidation of the projects are just two of the many problems identified during the implementation. RTD Olanday encouraged the municipalities to strictly follow the time frame for the execution of the project. “Once the project is carried out, the implementer liquidates and monitors the project,” said Olanday. 

Area To Improve

One area to strengthen is the personnel in agriculture. The Filipino farmers need teachers or tutors in agri-business. Not only on agricultural technology where they have inadequate knowledge, they are also in need for assistance in farm financing and agri-marketing.

Farm technology is just one component in agri-business. The farmers must have money to finance their project, materials, and equipment. They must also know the climate and season. Hence, the farmers must be provided the maximum assistance at all times in all their farm activities.

In credit for instance, farmers must be assisted in the preparation of loan documents. But where are the agricultural technicians who can tutor the farmers?

The Department of Agriculture, headed by its director with very limited personnel has offices in the regions. There is no DA personnel in the provincial, municipal and barangay levels. The former Bureau of Agricultural Extension was abolished and the 20,000 Agricultural Extension personnel were devolved to the provincial, city, and municipal governments. However, today their jobs depend on the whims and caprices of the governors and mayors.

Agricultural extension to assist the farmers in their farm operation must be strengthened. This is the means in the quest to conquer poverty. 

Ill Managed Airport

Retired Ambassador Wilfrido Villacorta commented on the KIA as “the worst airport I ever passed by”. Villacorta was the former Philippine Ambassador and representative to the ASEAN. He has traveled to 60 different countries and passed through their respective airports, but “ours is the worst” airport. It does not live up to the motto “TODO ASENSO” he said.

I was in the KIA arrival area for about two hours to welcome my guests from Manila. Their Cebu Pacific flight from Manila was delayed for about two hours. Their plane waited until it could have landing space at KIA.

Meanwhile, I lingered inside the terminal. Nobody asked me what is my business being there. I went to the comfort room. I found it filthy, too small for a place where thousands of people pass by daily. There is no urinal except the two bowls.

After an hour, a plane landed. The baggage conveyor was switched on. After all the baggage were claimed, the passengers left for their respective destinations. The airport and plane officials left too. The baggage conveyor was left running. I waited for someone to switch off the conveyor. No one came. After 30 minutes, I stood up and switched off the conveyor.

That is the style of management at the Kalibo International Airport. The security is too loose which explains why undocumented person was able to board an aircraft and travelled abroad. Some airport personnel are negligent of their duties which makes airport operation incur unnecessary expenses. CAAP must look for a management team to improve KIA management. /MP

16th SP All Set for Gov. Miraflores’ SOPA

16th SP All Set for Gov. 
Miraflores’ SOPA
by Odon S. Bandiola

Aklan Governor Florencio T. Miraflores is scheduled to deliver his State of the Province Address (SOPA) on February 4, 2015 during the 5th Regular Session of the 16th Sangguniang Panlalawigan at its Session Hall Provincial Capitol Kalibo, Aklan.

This will be the second SOPA of Miraflores since he assumed as Governor of Aklan noontime of June 30, 2013, to start his second round of governorship. Miraflores was Governor of Aklan for a full-9-year term starting 1995 up to 2004.

Thereafter, he was elected Congressman of the lone district of Aklan in the House of Representatives from 2004 to 2013, another 9-year full term before becoming a Provincial Governor again.

The 16th SP under the stewardship of Vice Governor Gabrielle V. Calizo-Quimpo has invited some 190 heads of local and national government offices, municipal officials, media practitioners, academicians, clerics and other sectoral representatives in the Province of Aklan.

Expected to be contained in the SOPA of Miraflores are his accomplishments in 2014 as Aklan’s chief executive to include his plans and programs for the succeeding years starting this year.

Expected to highlight his address is the P1.5 billion 2015 annual budgets of the Province of Aklan which was approved  by the 16th SP towards the end of December 2014, joining the elite billionaires club composed of the provinces of the country with billion peso budgets. This year’s annual budget will cover the operations of the Provincial Government of Aklan under the General Fund and the Economic Enterprise Development Department. Miraflores is expected to emphasize that the provincial government is becoming less and less dependent on its year from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) from the national government. With about P750 million IRA share this year. Aklan is only about 50 percent dependent from national government funds.
Miraflores likewise, is expected to highlight the provincial government accomplishments in terms of local revenue generation to which Aklan was adjudged by the Department of Finance as the top province among the provinces of the country to have the highest locally generated revenues Aklan, too, had been cited by the Department of Finance as one of the top 10 provinces  of the country to have the highest expenditure for the education of the children in terms of scholarship and Special Education Funds.

The Governor is also expected to highlight in his SOPA is the P40-Billion tourism receipts realized by the province through increasing tourist arrivals in Boracay Island which reached some 1.4 million visitors last year. It is also expected that the Governor will cite the drastic reduction of poverty incidence in the province of Aklan to a low 20.9 percent from a high of 37 percent five years ago. /MP

Aklan SP Urges DENR to Classify Sooc River Waters

Aklan SP Urges DENR to 
Classify Sooc River Waters
by Odon S. Bandiola

The Aklan River and Sooc River run and drain parallel to the
Sibuyan Sea with Sooc and the east and the Aklan at the west.
In another development and alarmed by the rising levels of coliform contamination of water samples taken from the Sooc River very recently, particularly in the vicinity of Kalibo’s dumping site in Barangay Bachao Sur and Buswang Old, the 16th Sangguniang Panlalawigan has urgently asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to immediately classify according to usage the Sooc River waters.

The urgent request was embodied in Resolution No. 277, Series of 2014 enacte
d by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during its 43rd Regular Session on December 10, 2014.

The reason why the SP has requested for the immediate classification of Sooc waters was that both the DENR and the Aklan Environment and Natural Resources Office cannot possibly establish the parameters as to what level of coliform contamination can be tolerable to prevent hazards to human life and marine resources as well as the environment.

The SP learned that the level of coliform count on tests on Sooc River water samples conducted by the AKENRO revealed tens of thousands MPN/100ml. It was also learned that DENR had earlier conducted tests on these water samples in the same vicinity of the Sooc River and tallied millions MPN/100ml of coliform contamination from the Sooc River water samples.

Both AKENRO and DENR failed to establish whether the high level of coliform contamination can be attributed to the seepage of liquid wastes emanating from Kalibo’s dumping site. This alarmed Aklan SP.

The DENR has already issued an order for the Local Government Unit of Kalibo to immediately institute safe closure proceedings on the capital town’s dumping site.  Residents and businesses, institutions like schools and other stakeholders living or doing businesses in the vicinity of Kalibo’s dumping site had long been complaining of the foul odor and hazards to health caused by the garbage being disposed in that area. 

The SP Committee on Environmental Protection chaired by SP Member Esel L. Flores after a committee hearing over the issue and recommends the following: 

1. For DENR to cause immediate classification of the Sooc River Waters upon request by LGU-Kalibo so that tolerable levels of contamination particularly coliform can be established including possible hazards to human and marine life and the environment;
2. For DENR to closely monitor compliance of LGU-Kalibo in the implementation of the safe closure procedures of the Kalibo Dumping Site in accordance with the timetable imposed by the DENR, and to possibly charge violations thereof;
3. For DENR and Provincial Government of Aklan to fast track the identification and development of an alternative sanitary landfill site outside of Kalibo; and
4. For DENR and AKENRO to conduct regular testing of the water samples of the Sooc River and if possible establish tolerable levels of contamination. /MP

2014: The Busiest Year For The 16th SP Of Aklan

2014: The Busiest Year 
For The 16th SP Of Aklan
by Odon S. Bandiola

Perspective of the Provincial Legislative Building soon
to rise at the Aklan Provincial Capitol Compound.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan for term 2013-2016 capped the year 2014 with a record number of ordinances passed. Some turned out to be very controversial for the provincial legislative body.

The SP in 2014 presided by Vice Governor Gabrielle V. Calizo-Quimpo had gone through a total of 276 committee hearings, 44 regular sessions, 3 special sessions and a total of 6 public hearings. 

From those legislative deliberations, the SP passed a total of 284 resolutions, 10 general ordinances, 14 special ordinances, 2 tax ordinances, 7 appropriation ordinances and accredited a total of 3 non-government organizations. 

Year 2014 is highlighted by the enactment of Tax Ordinance No. 001, Series of 2014, “An Ordinance Fixing The Schedule Of New Base Market Values Of Real Properties In The Entire Province Of Aklan,” this ordinance elicited a prolonged controversy from those sectors opposing the general revision of base market values of real properties.

The pocket opposition resulted in a litigation lodged in the Department of Justice questioning the validity and legality of the said tax ordinance while seeking nullification of the same. (The Department of Justice resolved the said Tax ordinance as null and void).

Year 2014 is highlighted by the approval of the P1.527 billion 2015 Annual Budget of the Provincial Government of Aklan covering the operations of the provincial government under the general fund and the economic enterprise development department.

The approval of the 2015 annual budget came through Appropriation Ordinance No. 005, Series of 2014 for the general fund with a total appropriations of P908,555,719.00, and through Appropriation Ordinance  No.006, Series of 2014 approving the EEDD budget carrying a total appropriations of P618,805,000.00. Programs and Projects funded by the 20 percent IRA development fund carry a total appropriations of P151,873,143.00 approved through Appropriation Ordinance No. 007, Series of 2014.

One prominent general ordinance enacted by the 16th SP is General Ordinance No. 009, Series of 2014, “An Ordinance Institutionalizing the Aklan Consignment System”. This will enable the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital to stockpile medicines from suppliers on consignment basis and strengthen the pharmacy services inside the hospital, a lingering problem of the hospital system of the province to the detriment of the patients. 

Another general ordinance conspicuously enacted by the 16th SP is General Ordinance No. 005, Series of 2014, “An Ordinance Constituting The Aklan Council For The ASEAN Economic Integration (ACAEI) 2015, Providing For Its Structure, Powers And Functions, Requiring Comprehensive Plans And Regular Monitoring Reports, Appropriating Funds For Its Operations And For Other Purposes.”

This will set the tone for Aklan to be able to advantageously position itself in the midst of the now on-going ASEAN Economic Integration. /MP

Aklan SP Approves STL Panay Aklan River Dredging Project

Aklan SP Approves STLPanay Aklan River Dredging Project
by Odon S. Bandiola

Aerial view of the Aklan River
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan has authorized Governor Florencio T. Miraflores to be one of the signatories in a Memorandum Of Agreement for the creation of the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team, Environmental Guarantee Fund and Environmental Monitoring Fund for the dredging project of a Singapore-based STL Panay Resources Incorporated at the Aklan River. 

The authority was embodied in Resolution No. 002, Series of 2015 enacted by the chamber during its 1st Regular Session for 2015 on January 7, 2015.

The formation of the tripartite monitoring team and the setting up of the environmental guarantee fund and environmental monitoring fund signal for the dredging project to start as soon as the dredging permit is granted by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Signatories to the MOA governing the creation of the monitoring team are the project proponent STL Panay Resources Incorporated, Province of Aklan represented by the Governor, Municipalities of Kalibo and Numancia represented by their respective Mayors, DENR-EMB Region VI, DENR-PENRO Aklan, NGO Uswag Development Foundation, Incorporated, DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region VI and DPWH.

The Aklan River dredging project is already issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) by the Central Office of the DENR. Likewise, DPWH Central Office has already approved the dredging plans submitted by the STL Panay Resources Incorporated and already endorsed to the DPWH Regional office for the issuance of a permit to dredge.

STL Panay Resources Incorporated is expected to dredge about 15 million cubic meters of debris at the Aklan River in a year operation. The original MOA, then signed by the company with former Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez, stipulated that STL Panay will dredge a minimum of 15 million cubic meters and pay the Province of Aklan P5.00 per cubic meter.

In the project presentation by the company, it is estimated that about 60 hectares within the Aklan River waters downstream and upstream shall be excavated by the dredging project. Dredging is not allowed within the one kilometer length away from the Kalibo Bridge downstream and upstream. Dredging shall be done by providing 200 meters buffer from the east and west banks of the Aklan River. Excavation will be at a depth of 2 meters to 4 meters depending on the level of siltation in the dredging area. 

In the aftermath of typhoon Frank when the entire Municipality of Kalibo, Numancia and Banga had been flooded as the Aklan River had overflown its banks, the Department of Public Works and Highways Regional Office implemented a P100 million dredging project at the mouth of the Aklan River near the Sibuyan Sea.

However, such DPWH dredging project has never shown positive result and impact in the eyes of all Aklanons and Local government units of Aklan. /MP

Friday, February 13, 2015

Outsourcing IT Security

By: Megs S. Lunn

Should an organization outsource IT security? 
IT outsourcing according to the dictionary (as a part of an outsourcing definition) is the use of external service providers to effectively deliver IT-enabled business process, application service and infrastructure solutions for business outcomes.

The first point of consideration in outsourcing IT security may be that it’s harder to handle newer faces to keep the information of the company safe when it can already be difficult to trust employees already within the company. That’s probably the first thing that pops into someone’s head so companies take all the steps and measures to make sure that when they outsource, the ones they hire will be competent  and trustworthy. With the rise of instances of hacking and information sharks taking advantage of the product and the client databases of companies, there really is a need to find sure security services with their providers having been tested already.

On the other hand, an organization should choose a solution that fits its budgets and meets its requirements.  Selecting a type of service - be it captive or owned; and outsourced, whereby done by a third-party vendor, should not only be based on price, but should factor in applicable features, scalability and survivability under most circumstances.

What are the issues involved when you turnover security to an outside organization?

The most issue in using a TPV in case there is a need to outsource, what stipulations would you include in a service level agreement with an IT security outsourcer to ensure that it did not exploit the openness of your systems and steal strategic and sensitive information. 

For Information Security will be its applicability to the needs of the contracting organization. For most offices, an off-the-shelf solution will work. But for customers with unique security requirements, a bespoke suite is needed.

Moreover, an issue in turning over security is that the process and finding excellent people for the job will be expensive.

Should the solution become made-to-measure for a particular company, it loses the cost savings factored in by using a TPV, which gets to spread the cost of the services over a number of customers.  It therefore might be cheaper to make your own services./MP

Monday, February 09, 2015

Seaweeds Industry Development In Guimaras

Seaweeds Industry 
Development In Guimaras
by: James Earl E. Ogatis
Provincial Agriculturist Mr. Ronnie Morante stressing that Guimaras has great potential in mass production of quality seaweeds because of its geographical location and strong support of the local government units in the project during the focus group discussion with the members of World Bank review supervision team.(James Earl E. Ogatis photo)

Well known for its sweetest mango in the country, the province of Guimaras is geared to develop its seaweeds industry through the collaboration of DA-Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), the provincial local government unit and the Sabang Seaweed Growers Association as the livelihood projects lead proponent group.

“The lead proponent conceptualized the Guimaras Seaweed Production and Marketing Project (GSPM), an P18.5M proposed project will directly benefit 403 seaweed growers  in the towns of Sibunag, Nueva Valencia, San Lorenzo and Jordan. It aims to improve the quality of life of 1,259 fisherfolks from the package of assistance in production, post-harvest and marketing .” said May Ann Grajo, the I-REAP component head of PRDP-RPCO-6.

The funding will come from World Bank– P8,886,232.80; Philippines Government – P2,962,077.60; Provincial government of Guimaras – P2,962,077.60 and proponent equity of P3,702,597.00.

“This project will generate additional employment for the women and out of school youth. It will ensure sustainability of volume and quality of production,” said Grajo. 

Guimaras is the second seaweed producer of Western Visayas after the province of Antique. Guimaras has many potential areas for expansion as it is situated between the islands of Panay and Negros.

Mr. Ronnie Morante, Provincial Agriculturist of Guimaras assured to support the project. “The five municipalities of Guimaras had ordinances pertaining to the protection of marine resources and marine sanctuaries conservation,” Morante stressed.

He is optimistic for the success of the project noting that seaweed is easy to culture, has big market potential and active cooperation of the fisher members of the organization.

The group is already capacitated on management, marketing and production technology and each member will develop a 1,000 sq.m. production area.

The involvement of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is also encouraged in order to access new variety of planting materials that is resistant of pest and diseases, can adapt to the shallow method of propagation and environment.

The proponent group was challenged to also increase the number of fish stock by 10 percent after six years based on their 16 hectares marked production area.

PRDP is a six-year rural development project that aims to increase incomes of rural farmers while improving the country’s economy through agri-based initiatives. It is implemented by the DA, with funding from the World Bank, National Government, and LGUs. /MP 

NGCP Showcases Specialized Skills At Substation Personnel Skills Competition

NGCP Showcases Specialized Skills At Substation Personnel Skills Competition

Power grid operator NGCP’s technical personnel are set to display their highly specialized technical expertise during the first Maintenance and Testing Division (MTD) and Substation Personnel Skills Competition at NGCP’s Mexico Substation in Pampanga from January 28 to 30.

A first of its kind for NGCP, the competition will provide a venue for representatives of North Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao MTDs and substations to share best practices while engaging in friendly competition. The event will also allow non-technical personnel to better appreciate the rigors of day to day operations in high-voltage substations.

The competition events include finding defects in the substation, addressing problems on operating procedures and safety, and testing and trouble shooting of transformers and protection relays, among others. These will determine the level of efficiency and compliance with operational and safety procedures, a criterion NGCP places in top priority and allows zero tolerance for non-compliance across all other aspects of its operations.

In a statement, NGCP President and CEO Henry Sy, Jr. emphasized that, “More than showcasing the competence and expertise of NGCP personnel, the competition is also an opportunity to honor NGCP’s frontliners. Our substation and MTD personnel are some of our unsung heroes. Their commitment to their work ensures the security and reliability of NGCP’s facilities and assures our grid customers, and also the general public, of the quality of power transmission services.”

In time for the opening of the three-day skills competition, NGCP will also inaugurate its Power Training Center in Mexico, Pampanga on January 28.The new training center boasts of a mini-substation equipped with 230-kV and 69-kV switchyard basic components and other substation equipment, a control room, a lecture room, and the district command center for disaster monitoring. The facility fully supports the enhancement of the technical skills and proficiency of newly hired and regular substation and MTD engineers and technicians.

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