Monday, June 30, 2014

3 new Ilocos Norte mayors complete DILG course on local governance

THREE newly elected Ilocos Norte municipal mayors have successfully completed the Newly-Elected Officials (NEO) Program Online Orientation Course being administered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

They are Marcos Mayor Arsenio Agustin, Carasi Mayor Rene Gaspar, and San Nicolas Mayor Melanie Grace Valdez.

The online course, which is the first component of the NEO Program, is a pioneering venture of the Department through the Local Government Academy (LGA) in its tireless effort to capacitate local government units and their officials through online training modules.

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas awarded the certificates of completion to the 22 newly-elected officials, who are mostly neophytes, during the Grand Graduation Ceremony held May 28 at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City.

Binabati ko ang ating mga mayor na nagsilahok at nakatapos ng kursong ito dahil sa ipinamalas ninyong pagsisikap at pagpupursigi na maging mas epektibo at mabuting lingkod-bayan,” said Mr. Roxas.

Lagi nating naririnig ang mga salitang ‘Tuwid na Daan’. Now, your challenge is to operationalize ‘Tuwid na Daan’ in local governance. Ito na ang pagkakataon nating manilbihan nang matapat at mahusay sa tinatawag ni PNoy na tunay nating mga Boss, ang taumbayan,” he added.

The DILG Secretary explained that the mayors have fulfilled the requirements of the program by completing the two basic modules and three elective modules/online executive sessions. The said officials also crafted their 1st 100 Days in Office, Social Contract and their own Re-Entry Action Plan.

Eight of the course finishers are from the Ilocos region; six are from Western Visayas; two each from Central Luzon and Central Visayas; and one each from Cagayan Valley and CALABARZON.

Other newly elected mayors who completed the DILG course are: Ericson Singson of Candon City, Ilocos Sur; Ryan Mencias of Alcala, Rebecca Saldivar of San Nicolas, Timoteo Villar of Sto. Tomas, Gwen Palafox-Yamamoto of Bani, all in Pangasinan; Asela Sacramed of Sanchez Mira, Cagayan; Estela Antipolo of San Antono, Zambales; Ambrocio Cruz of Guiguinto, Bulacan; Shierre Ann Portes-Palicpic of Pagbilao, Quezon; Galicano Atup of Ubay, Bohol; Alfonso Gubatina of Madalag and James Solanoy of Nabas, both in Aklan; Arthur John Bias of Sapian, Capiz; Augusto Diaz Corro of Daanbantayan, Cebu; and Ronilo Caspe of Cabatuan, Macario Napulan of Miagao, Mamerto Pelopero III of Dueas, John Tarrosa of Zarraga, and Serafin Villa, Jr. of Badiangan, all in Iloilo.

For the first module of the course, the participants were indulged with recorded video discussions of Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog, and Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur Mayor Jun Pacalioga. They were also tasked to watch President P-Noy describe his own social contract to guide them in formulating their own Social Contract to their constituents.

For the second orientation module, the participants were asked to watch video recordings of local governance practitioners to help them understand the concept of decentralization and governance and apply it to their own leadership style.

The local government practitioners who shared their insights thru video are: former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.; Mindoro Oriental Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr.; Bohol Gov. Edgardo Chatto; former San Fernando City Mayor Oscar Rodriguez; Upi, Maguindanao Mayor Ramon Piang; and Quezon City administrator Victor Endriga.

LGA Executive Director Marivel Sacendoncillo said the initial success of the program is “a positive step forward in the continuous efforts of the DILG and LGA to better cater to the needs of local government units nationwide in practical and innovative ways.” (MTE)

Provincial dad wants national agencies to submit list of on-going projects

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter
June 18, 2014

LAOAG CITY—For transparency’s sake, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is set to invite national agencies implementing various infrastructure projects in the province to provide updates about their on-going projects here.

Citing the Local Government Code of the Philippines, SP member Vicentito M. Lazo said that local government units are tasked to monitor nationally-financed infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and irrigation systems and buildings among others.

Atty. Lazo’s proposal came in the wake of an unfinished construction of a bridge along the national highway of General Segundo Street in Laoag City, causing traffic among motorists and commuters.

On June 2, the Department of Public Works and Highways of the first district of Ilocos Norte temporary opened the bridge with no railings and unpaved approaches to avoid traffic congestion in Laoag City due to the opening of classes.

Atty. Lazo however observed that the said project lack safety precautions such as putting signage and a project billboard specifying the amount of the project, project duration and building contractor etc.

According to him, the absence of signage and safety measures specially this rainy season at the unfinished construction project needs immediate attention for the benefit of the riding public.

When asked for comment, Engr. Richard Ragasa, assistant engineer of the DPWH-I said that the bridge construction along the Bacarra road in this city was temporary stopped due to continuous rain last week.

He assured that the contractor shall be able to fix the signage, railings and approaches of the bridge soon.

Three more bridges along the national highway in Batac City and its neighboring Currimao town are undergoing construction, causing inconvenience to the public.

“The province will suffer if something goes wrong,” Atty. Lazo reiterated as the lack of safety measures poses danger to motorists. 

With this development, the provincial board is planning to pass an ordinance to require national government agencies implementing hard projects such as the DPWH, National Irrigation Administration, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform to properly inform the Sangguniang Panlalawigan about the list of projects they are tasked to implement within the calendar period.

He also added that with the controversial pork scandal, the passage of said ordinance is timely to promote government transparency and accountability when implementing infrastructure projects.

Farmers, scientists look at ways to cope with global warming

Farmers and scientists are scrambling to find ways to prevent climate change from grabbing food from the table.

Glimpses of what they are doing were presented during the 44th Scientific Conference of the Crop Science Society of the Philippines (CSSP).

“Climate change is projected to become a progressively more significant threat in the coming decades,” said CSSP president Ramon Oliveros. “Current agricultural approaches need to be modified and innovative adaptation strategies need to be in place to efficiently produce more food in stressed conditions.”

“The effects of climate change are already being felt as shown by more intense and frequent rains which pose additional threats for farmers in coping with their food production,” said Aurora M. Corales of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).

“Helping farmers improve their livelihoods by enhancing their capacity to adapt to climate variability is a new challenge to development workers,” said Ms. Corales whose study on adaptation techniques in Aurora province showed that rice farmers are able to lower pest and disease outbreaks, reduce pesticide use – and increase yields.

At the same time, Mr. Oliveros said: “Improved crops resilient to extreme environments caused by climate change are being developed. Biotechnology research to mitigate global warming is ongoing.”

Loida M. Perez of PhilRice, for example, is using DNA sequencing to find new genes from 73 traditional rice varieties; three cultivated varieties show promise at different intensities of progressive drought stress. DNA sequencing has started on nine traditional cultivated varieties collected from submerged and saline areas in Cagayan and the Ilocos regions.

A promising technology is growing aerobic rice which is drought-tolerant and high-yielding in areas with little water, said Orlando F. Balderama of the Isabela State University. Aerobic rice can save water by half and reduce production inputs by 30 percent—while increasing yields by at least 15 percent in water-scarce areas in Cagayan Valley, he said. 

Farmers' field trials yielded 4 tons to 6 tons per hectare with a water efficiency of 2.2 grains produced per kilogram of water used. At 4 tons per hectare, the net income is P92,600, Mr. Balderama said.

Zenaida C. Gonzaga of the Visayas State University studied protective cropping, which is similar to greenhouses but are actually simple structures consisting of a frame and roofing to provide shelter from adverse weather to produce high value vegetables. She looked at tomato, sweet pepper, ampalaya and lettuce grown in 38 protective structures in Leyte and Southern Leyte.

Compared to open fields, protected cropping resulted in higher yields in both wet and dry season. Diseases were easier to control (although whiteflies, aphids and mites were more difficult to handle). And it allowed year-round vegetable production, she said.

Noel O. Ganotisi of PhilRice observed how low-cost drip irrigation in Ilocos Norte, compared with furrow irrigation, used limited water more efficiently. While both types of irrigation did not significantly affect the performance of ampalaya and tomato, investment on drip irrigation can be recovered in just one cropping season with ampalaya and tomato, and in one or two croppings with eggplant.

Another PhilRice colleague, Reynaldo C. Castro, developed a rainwater harvesting system for small upland farms. Through canals, which minimize soil erosion, water is collected into plastic drums and distributed by gravity through PVC pipes. Water is stored underground to minimize evaporation. He has replicated the system in Abra.

Because water is the most limiting constraint in agriculture, Mr. Castro developed a subsurface runoff water harvesting system in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, where the Quiaoit River dries up in June when crops still need irrigation. 

The technology is made of reinforced concrete pipes six feet below the river bed to impound the subsurface runoff along the river. While the study is on-going, the technology has potential in semi-arid areas such as the Ilocos where intensive pumping of groundwater is becoming a problem. (SciPhil)

Laoag City turns 49

LC @ 49. Laoag Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas leads the official of the city is celebrating the city’s 49th Charter Day on June 19, 2014. (Doms dela Cruz)
By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

Laoag City—With Laoag City celebrating its 49th Charter Day on June 19, Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas turned to the people for gratitude as they are the driving force that has made city one of the most progressive and popular city not only nationally but also internationally.

Ms. Fariñas though reserved her biggest thanks to the “Almighty, for without Him, Laoag City would not have been this progressive.”

The event was marked by a simple ceremony highlighted by the release of white balloons by Laoag’s councilors, department heads and city government employees led by Ms. Fariñas, as well as barangay and national agencies’ officials.

The release of white balloons, Ms. Fariñas explained, is a “sign of freedom”.

Laoag City police officer-in-charge P/Supt. Jeffrey Gorospe and the world famous Samiweng Singers also took part in the event.

In her speech, Ms. Fariñas noted that the city’s Charter Day coincides with the birth anniversary of Dr. Jose P. Rizal—Philippines’ national hero. In view of this, she urged all Laoag City government employees to fulfill their own responsibilities for a better Laoag.

Meanwhile, city government administrator Hilarion Cipriano “Perry” Martinez III said he thought the mayor was “a little bit emotional” right after her speech. He added that this is because of her love for Vice Mayor Michael V. Fariñas, a former three-term Laoag mayor who was born when Laoag was converted into a city.

Malacañang declared June 19 as a special non-working holiday for Laoag to give its residents the chance to celebrate and participate in the celebrations.

Gut query

“Why are we so corrupt?” That was the question cultural activist Joy Virata lobbed at Francisco Sionil Jose.  I’m pushing 90, Jose said. Virata must have considered my being ancient, perhaps enhanced by a little knowledge of history.

Jose has authored novels set in the context of Philippine history to essays.  He won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism and Literature in 1980 and shortly thereafter the Pablo Neurda Centennial Award.

Historian William Henry Scott analyzed an inventory, in the 1896 revolution, Jose recalled. It listed   broken pens, battered chairs, “trivia put down by outgoing bureaucrats illustrating their honesty”.

In the 1930s, politicians spent their own money for their elections campaign. Many were impoverished by their aspirations.

Former Secretary of Health Juan Salcedo and, Sen. Juan Flavier used public transport. Cabinet Secretary Conrado Estrella and Sen. Emmanuel Pelaez traveled without any escort. Today, even a small city mayor careens with a fleet of security vehicles.

Look at the composition of the Senate in the 1950s: Recto, Tañada, Pelaez, Manglapus and others. “Yes, there was one movie star—Rogelio dela Rosa but he was circumspect, competent enough to be ambassador, too.

Look at senators today, and weep. After four years, the Ampatuan massacre trial is still ongoing. What rendered us so apathetic?

“There are realities that aggravate the Filipino metastasis: mass poverty; pakikisama, wherein we don’t ostracize the corrupt; our cowardice even—all these basically obstruct the creation of a just society

“Many evils are ‘accruements of a colonial past’. True. Vestiges remain and, as the writer Salvador de Madariaga pointed out, a country can well be a colony of its own elites.” And this is what we have become.”

The past century tested us as a people aspiring to be a nation. After the execution of Jose Rizal, by the Spaniards, in 1986, the revolution broke out. It was sold out, by a weakened leadership, in the Pact of Biak na Bato. That struggle was resuscitated when the Americans came in 1898. We fought them, too. But the ragtag revolutionary Army was beaten and we became an American colony.

Apolinario Mabini’s singular role was a stern moral leadership. But his voice was not heeded even by the president. General Emilio Aguinaldo, was surrounded by rich ilustrados who urged negotiations with the new imperialists to enrich themselves. See in the early Malolos Republic this fatal virus:  collaboration with the enemy for personal gain.

The same virus resurged in the Japanese occupation. So many collaborated with them, some out of belief that they would relieve Asia from Western colonialism but most, simply to preserve their privileged status and profit.

In Europe, the Danes started killing the collaborators even before Nazi Germany collapsed. The French hounded jailed them. Here, many proclaimed themselves patriots. They were granted amnesty.

The virus erupted under martial law. Mass infraction of human rights was of little concern for the masa as long as food was cheap. Again, many worked gladly for Marcos, legitimized his regime. They contributed to the death, imprisonment and torture of thousands.

In our history, the collaborators were never punished. They ended up rich, and many successfully masqueraded as heroes.  Today, we see the Marcoses and their hirelings back in power, sneering at our credulity.

For hosannas evoked by development in the economy, we need to think of the past which impacts on today. There is one great failing of government, from Cory’s to her son’s. This is the resolution of the assassination of Ninoy Aquino.

No one seriously believes that those soldiers imprisoned for the crime were the real perpetrators. Someone upstairs, powerful and well-connected masterminded it all, as well as the cover-up murders of several people who were in the know. Such a crime—without being fully resolved—contributes to the apathy of people, 

The assassination of Ninoy is known all over the world, it is blot on the image of the nation as it illustrates to the rottenness of Filipino justice system. If there is no justice for Ninoy Aquino, how can there be justice for poor, anonymous Juan? If President PNoy knows, he does not say.  That is the most damning because he is the son.

What aggravates our moral decay is our very nature, and hypocrisy. We are familiar with the crimes of our leaders. Yet, we fete them, invite them in social functions, often bonded as they are with us not just by social ties but by gratitude for what these politicians do for us.

Our economic system, which is propelled by consumerism and untrammeled greed, which anchors a question: Is there no hope for Filipinos then?

The answer is with our youth. Our heroes who wrote history with their blood were all in their 20s and 30s. For sure, many of the ilustrados joined the revolution for themselves. But Rizal, Mabini, Bonifacio and so many others did not.

And we are a talented people, as illustrated no less by Rizal. No country in Asia has ever produced a man like him. When we celebrate his birthday just remember, he was a novelist, a sculptor, a medical doctor, a scholar, a teacher and a martyr at 35 when the Spaniards executed him.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

DENR shutters Pagudpud dumpsite

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

PAGUDPUD, Ilocos Norte—After failing to adhere to the provisions of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, this town’s open dumpsite was ordered shuttered.

Situated at Barangay Caunayan, the controversial garbage dump was ordered by closed the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources pending the municipality’s construction of a sanitary landfill.

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Juan delos Reyes confirmed this following the submission of the municipality’s closure plan.

While still searching for a possible location of the proposed Pagudpud sanitary landfill, Mr. Delos Reyes said the municipality may consider rehabilitating the open dump site of Pagudpud into a controlled dumpsite.

To date, Pagudpud Mayor Marlon Sales reported that in preparation to the closure, the Pagudpud local government initiated plans such as the development of compost pit in every household including the conduct of information, education, and communication (IEC) on proper waste segregation.

As to the closure and rehabilitation of the Caunayan open dump site, the Pagudpud government has allotted funding for the  construction of a retaining wall, fencing of its premises, leveling of the steep slope and covering the site with soil, and printing and hanging of  tarpaulins stating among others that the dump site is now permanently closed.

According to Mr. Delos Reyes, the DENR is still validating other municipalities here who have yet to comply with the Solid Waste Management Act.

“If the local government units can not comply on the first and second warning, that will be the time to issue a closure order,” Mr. Delos Reyes stressed.

Bangui mayor’s hearing: SP poised to file indirect contempt raps vs witness

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

Laoag City—Celso Ragudo, the principal witness who was supposed to pin down suspended Bangui Mayor Diosdado Garvida for indiscriminate firing may face indirect contempt of court charge if he does not appear during the hearing at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on June 24, 2014.

On June 17, 2014, Mr. Ragudo was supposed to be the last witness against Mr. Garvida in the SP’s third and supposedly final hearing of the administrative charge filed against the Bangui mayor. Mr. Ragudo however was a no-show.

In an affidavit Mr. Ragudo voluntarily filed at the SP, he said he saw Mr. Garvida fire his gun while attempting to stop unlicensed quarry operators at a private lot owned by Kremlin Alupay of Brgy. Taguipuro in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

Mr. Ragudo, on June 17, though did not appear on the hearing even after the issuance of a subpoena by the provincial board.

Atty. Victor Corpuz, Mr. Alupay’s legal counsel, said they tried to convince Mr. Ragudo but for some unknown reason, their witness is now “evading” them.

In view of this, SP. member Atty. Vicentito Lazo recommended to the provincial board that indirect contempt of court be filed against Mr. Ragudo because he refused to show up during the hearing even if the SP issued a summons addressed to him.

“The subpoena should not be taken lightly. The SP has no contempt powers but under the rules of law, we can file a verified petition at the Regional Trial Court for indirect contempt against Ragudo,” Atty. Lazo said.

Ragudo is given until June 24 to comply with the SP subpoena or face the charge at the RTC.

Mr. Garvida was placed under a month-long preventive suspension since May 21 pending the hearing of the administrative charge.

The Bangui mayor was charged with misconduct and abuse of authority after he allegedly fired a gun while confronting an unlicensed quarry operator in April.

Here comes the rain

THE SUMMER solstice on June 21, 2014 marked the longest day of the year for the Philippines. As much as it marked the start of the summer in the other part of the world, it also signaled the onset of rainy season in our part of the world.

And as in the past, rainy season in our country is also typhoon season and disaster time. The move of Ilocos Norte Gov. Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos to map emergency equipment around the province is not only laudable but more so wise; as it is better to be prepared now when we can still move around rather than racing against time when disasters strike.

The equipment mapping also look to include private contractors around the province as the provincial government looks to them to assist if and when disasters strike.

Landslide-prone and flood-prone areas in the provinces have been identified. And if landslide and floods cannot be prevented by human interventions for now, the provincial government should preposition all the needed equipment in the areas. This move would tremendously increase their response time to clear landslides and to employ rescue operations in flooded areas.

But as much as this is laudable, our officials should also dig deeper now to find ways in either preventing these disasters or mitigating their effects. As much as there is already a tourism master plan for the province, we can only hope that they have also prepared a similar master plan that would address problems in the disaster-prone areas around the province. Otherwise, all these things would just turn into a cycle: prepare, rescue and repair, and then back again.

A geo-hazard map has been made available by the national government. Here, landslide- and flood-prone areas have been identified—along with those susceptible to storm surges and tsunamis. A map showing earthquake faults has also been made available by the government.

However, it would not matter if everything is being served on a silver platter if persons concerned would not do anything to prepare, mitigate and—ultimately—to prevent these disasters from affecting the people.

As Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you are right.”

Piddig (Ilocos Norte) creates Quick Response Office

Staff Reporter

Piddig, Ilocos Norte—To respond in crisis situations, the local government unit here created a Quick Response Office (QRO) operating on 24/7 basis.

The new office, popularly known as “Piddig Cares” located near the Philippine National Police station here has been created by virtue of an ordinance initiated by ex-officio town councilor Gina Guillen, Piddig’s Liga ng mga Barangay president.

June 2, with an initial budget allotment of at least P500,000 from the municipal government.

In an interview, Piddig Mayor Eddie Guillen said the Quick Response Office is just like “hitting two birds in one stone” as it serves as a facility or a point of care to people during emergency situations and at the same time, to permanently operate as a coordinating body during disaster.

IN 2011, Piddig Cares was launched primarily to assist local residents in times of need. This time, said office was institutionalized, giving a permanent plantilla position to head the office.

Under Republic Act 10121 or “An act strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System, providing for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Framework and institutionalizing the National Disaster Risk Reduction And Management Plan,” it mandates the creation of Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer in every province, city and municipality in charge with administration and training; research and planning and operations and warning.

The Quick Response Office of Piddig town is among the first in Ilocos Norte, which complied with the said law. 

Ilocos Norte on the cusp of ‘breaking out from poverty’

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

LAOAG CITY—The province of Ilocos Norte is about to hit the mark and become the country’s champion in terms of meeting the Millennium Development Goals target to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty by 2015.

The Philippines has committed to reduce poverty incidence by 16 percent of the total population by 2015 as one of the signatories in the United Nations’ Millennium Declaration towards reducing poverty and the worst forms of human deprivation.

Based on the latest MDG scorecard of Ilocos Norte, the province has successfully achieved the national target of 16 percent poverty incidence.

As one of the pioneering users of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), the localization of MDGs in Ilocos Norte became a major process in transforming the lives of the less fortunate households in the province based on focus and need-based assessment.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) manages the NHTS-PR, a data bank and an information management system that identifies the names and specific location of the poorest of the poor in the country.

“We would like to qualify as champions of the MDG,” Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos said to DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman who visited Laoag and met with the Federated Day Care Workers Association in Region 1.

Ang Ilocos Norte ay umabot na sa 16 percent. So, if we keep sustaining that or even making it lower, then Ilocos Norte becomes a champion of MDG. So, we need to intensify our efforts at ipakita natin na pwede at hindi imposible na babaan ang poverty incidence,” Ms. Soliman said during her visit in the province.

The DSWD secretary also assured that more livelihood assistance among others will be allotted for Ilocos Norte residents particularly to cover the 18,770 households who are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in the province.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rule of law

By Alfredo C. Garvida, Jr.

The much anticipated indictment of Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla along with pork barrel scam queen, Janet Napoles, has finally come last Friday, June 6, 2014, when the Office of the Ombudsman filed the criminal information of plunder, a non-bailable offense, against these big-time personalities with the Sandiganbayan.

Varied reactions, as expected, surfaced, mostly in support of the indictments reflective of how the citizens of this country feel about corruption. The accused are not guilty—as yet, because this what the law mandates--until the court finds them guilty beyond reasonable doubt. 

The three senators are accused of having perpetrated the crime for a period of 10 years, allegedly robbing the people billions of pesos for ghost or unworthy projects just so they could allegedly earn illicit commissions for their selfish ends. People are awed at the speed of the indictments' formalization, and in silence, revering the measure of political will the administration has in going head to head against popular and powerful politicians in this country. 

The accused cry of political persecution is understandable, as is always the conventional defense of a politician when cornered of wrongdoing, even in flagrante delicto, yet  the rule of law must not be pushed to the back burner no matter who the accused are, no matter what political or social affiliations they belong to, most especially when the public trust is breached by people sworn to uphold the law as Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla were when they assumed their lofty offices at the Philippine Senate.

The government did what was right but the public should militate against selective justice too in the face of accusations that some administration boys are involved in the scam as well. President Aquino does not earn respect with his mere absolution rhetoric in his men's behalf. He must conduct an unbiased and beyond-suspicion inquiry into this issue if only to give justice to his men now suffering suspicion before the bar of public opinion and to demonstrate as well his faith to the rule that no man is above the law. 

Last Monday, June 9th, the government filed additional criminal information of graft against these distinguished senators, which is defining for the public's introspection as it imparts the notion that the offenses imputed on them are grave, multiple and transcendent of political persecution. It is worth noting that Sen. Revilla, in his senate privileged speech on the same day of his graft indictment, has accused the President of failing to address poverty and unemployment in this country, a function Mr. Aquino, in Revilla's mind, was supposed to prioritize over his zeal to jail his ‘oppositors”—or corrupt men in government, whichever way the public may read it. 

Sen. Revilla must have conveniently forgotten that the Philippines is now considered one of the top emerging economies of the world given the global investors' confidence in the present government's social, economic and political policies, topmost of which is the hard drive of the government, of which Senator Revilla is a crucial and essential part of, against corruption. He must have conveniently forgotten as well that the root cause of the nation's poverty and unemployment is corruption in government. He must have conveniently forgotten as well that economic policies of the nation, such as those against poverty and unemployment, are not the sole burden of the President to formulate but that of the Congress, too, of which he is a member.  

In short, as a member of Congress, has he done something to mitigate them? Or, if the accusations against him are true, didn't he make unemployment and poverty worse? 

Some legal and political experts have opined that the cases of plunder and graft against these distinguished senators will not terminate within Mr. Aquino's presidency, which means that there will be a new Philippine President by then. The big question is whether the new president will pick up Mr. Aquino's resolve to fight for the Filipino's right to justice for the plunder on their money as well as for the breach of public trust committed by people they have elected to represent their interest in congress. The burden on this issue is so heavy on one presidential candidate who presently leads the presidential surveys but who is also known by all and sundry to be a political ally of the accused. 

The citizens are too wary of the double standard of justice accorded to inmates. They have seen how Rolito Go and former Batangas Governor Leviste have defied the terms of their incarceration at the National Penitentiary. They have seen how luxurious Mr. Druglord Camata was surviving his jail term, complete with a privilege to entertain women in his private hospital suite. And people have not forgotten too how former President Joseph Estrada was held at an exclusive government compound, eventually pardoned by President Gloria Arroyo, who herself is being held in a government hospital for the crime of plunder too.   

Privileged people are always privileged no matter the circumstance. The Philippine National Police is busy refurbishing the “suites” of the three senators at the PNP Headquarters, where Avelino Razon, the former commanding general of the Philippine National Police is incarcerated too for the crime of—what else—corruption. And people are wondering what separates presidents, senators, millionaires, governors, drug lords and generals from ordinary citizens before the eyes of the law? Where does social bias end that equality before the law may begin? 

Finally, the Constitution reposes solely in the President the absolute power to grant reprieve and pardon to convicted criminals. To make it easier for government officials to think twice before thieving people's money, wasn't it time that this presidential power be qualified to exclude pardon on plunder and public corruption that the bar to the state's chance of alleviating poverty and decreasing unemployment may be lowered? 

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano's fear that a Binay presidency could lead to a whitewash of the cases against the Vice President's political allies may be legitimate, but this fear be better left to the citizens to decide at the right time. For now, let the rule of law prevail for it exists, purportedly, in the name of justice. And justice means due process, equality to all, vindication of rights and having errant people suffer the consequence of their act. 

San Nicolas celebrates Independence Day by inaugurating and blessing new RHU and garbage compactors

SAN NICOLAS inaugurates the San Nicolas Rural Health Unit (RHU) and Lying-In Clinic and two newly acquired garbage compactors under the administration of Mayor Melanie Grace Valdez. The blessing and inauguration coincided with the municipality’s Independence Day celebration. Rev. Derick Rabanes blessed the vehicles and the new clinic. (Doms dela Cruz)

PDEA steps up monitoring of illegal drugs transshipment in Ilocos Norte

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

LAOAG CITY—The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has intensified their surveillance operations against international drug syndicates who are taking advantage of the Ilocos Norte’s 150-kilometer shoreline as possible transshipment points.

The PDEA agents in Laoag City said shabu and marijuana remain to be the most abused drugs in the region with plantations discovered in La Union and Ilocos Sur.

Of the 31 operations conducted since January, the PDEA reported that at least 37 drug personalities were arrested. Three of the 31 successive operations were based on intelligence operations.

Based on initial findings, PDEA elements identified about 50 barangays from Laoag City, San Nicolas and Badoc as transshipment points of prohibited drugs originating from Cavite to Pangasinan and Ilocos Norte.

At present, the cost of shabu is pegged at P5,000 to P6,000 per gram while marijuana is sold at P25 to P50 per gram.

“The price is relatively lower compared [to] previous years,” said a PDEA agent citing the new mode of delivery now is through “dead drop” which means drug dealers have likewise upgraded their trade, making it harder for anti-narcotics authorities to monitor their sale.

MMSU prepares for institutional accreditation

By Reynaldo E. Andres 

Batac CITY—The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) is in the midst of preparation for an institutional accreditation.

The accreditation will determine MMSU’s proficiency and credibility as an institution of higher learning through a review by the members of the Accrediting Association of Chartered Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (AACCUP). 

The Batac-based state university chose voluntary evaluation as it expects to prove that its visions and mission would conform to its programs before it is permitted to become a member of the association of accredited institutions in the country.

On November 11-16, 2013, AACCUP members revisited MMSU and evaluated the eight degree programs of the university and assessed whether these possess quality standards and persisting efforts to maintain them at high level.

The degree programs were Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN), Bachelor in Elementary Education (BEEd), Bachelor in Secondary Education (BSE), BS Agricultural Engineering (BS Ag Eng), BS in Civil Engineering BSCE), AB in English Language (ABEL), BS in Business Administration (BSBA), and BS in Hospitality Management (BSHM).

MAN, BEEd. BSE, and BS Ag Eng underwent fourth survey, while BSCE and ABEL underwent third and second surveys, respectively. The BSBA and BSHM which underwent preliminary survey received an overall ratings of 4.85 and 4.77 percent, respectively, thus, qualifying them for Level 1 survey which was conducted just recently.

Prior to these, the university had underwent several program accreditations in the past years wherein most of its degree programs were accredited in the second and third levels. But in this institutional accreditation, the entire university is accredited, which means that it bestows a high level of credibility on a university as a whole.

It is a process by which the University demonstrates to the public that it is fulfilling its mission of providing quality education through the appropriate use of its resources and its adherence to the criteria established for all colleges and universities in the country.

In a consultation forum held at the University Function hall on June 6, Dr. Manuel T. Corpus, AACCUP executive director, said MMSU will be evaluated and accredited as an entire educational organization in terms of its mission and the agency’s standards or criteria.

“Besides assessing formal educational activities, we will evaluate such things as governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with internal and external constituencies,” Dr. Corpus said.

Accreditation is a process to assess and upgrade the educational quality of higher education institutions in the country. It is a system of evaluation based on the standards of the AACCUP and a means of assuring and improving the quality of their programs.

The process leads to a grant of accredited status and provides national and even international recognition and information on educational quality.

Aside from the AACCUP, the Association of Local Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (ALCUCOA) is also involved in accrediting agencies for government-run institutions.

Together, they form the National Network of Quality Assurance Agencies (NNQAA) as the certifying agency for government-sponsored institutions. However NNQAA does not certify all government-sponsored institutions.

The AACCUP is an active member of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies for Higher Education (INQAAHE), and of the Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN).

Thus, any positive evaluation done by the AACCUP for MMSU will be of great impact in the promotions of its programs worldwide.

Dr. Wilma Natividad, vice president for academic affairs, challenged the heads of all units saying, “We should have a shared vision toward this goal so that all our efforts will be geared toward this direction.”

Knowing the salient steps to take as the university prepares for this prestigious institutional accreditation status, Dr. Natividad said this consultation forum with Dr. Corpus “would save us from burden of stress brought about by the preparation of voluminous paper works , competition in the use of facilities and other resources, as well as the deadlines set by the AACCUP.”

“Institutional accreditation would demand higher passing standards than program accreditation, but we resolve to go through it because of its usefulness and relevance in matters of fund allocation, SUC leveling, and rationalization which translate into prestige and fulfillment of our mandate as higher educational institution,” she added.

Laoag mayor tasks disciplinary board to probe LCGH chief

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

Laoag City—After personally studying the charges filed against Laoag City General Hospital (LCGH) chief Dr. Francis Dacuycuy, Laoag Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas has tasked the city government’s Disciplinary and Separation Board (DSB) to investigate the issue further.

Ms. Fariñas explained that she did this primarily to avoid perceptions of bias and favoritism as well as public speculation and for Dr. Dacuycuy to personally defend himself against the charge. She stressed that she wanted the DSB investigation and its consequent results to be made public.

She added that since Dr. Dacuycuy is a contractual and appointed official, she should have the right to issue this decision. She also noted that the Civil Service Commission has taken a hands-off policy on this issue.

In addition to this, Ms. Fariñas said she also wants to know the opinions of DSB members.

Ms. Fariñas disclosed that she did not simply rely on the explanation given by Dr. Dacuycuy along with certifications attached to it. She also asked other people who may have knowledge of the issue.

During the interview, Ms. Fariñas learned that Dr. Dacuycuy was confined at the LCGH for over-fatigue, stress and back pains.

Dr. Dacuycuy was alleged to have used a government vehicle to gamble at a local casino.

Meanwhile, DSB member and city administrator Cipriano Hilarion “Perry” Martinez III said he heard that the complaint has been forwarded to the board but he has yet to personally peruse it.

Mr. Martinez added that the DSB will soon convene and the complaint will be included in a series of hearings in the preliminary investigation.

He also noted that the complainant may be invited by the board depending on the result of the preliminary investigation.

The DSB can also recommend Dr. Dacuycuy’s preventive suspension if the situation asks for it, he stated.

As for the current situation of Dr. Dacuycuy, Mr. Martinez said he will visit LCGH to check on its operations even if there is already an officer-in-charge appointed while the hospital chief is confined.

The complaint against Dr. Dacuycuy was filed by former Laoag Mayor Roger C. Fariñas.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Export industry iti Rehion I, naiget a masupsuportaran

Panangpapigsa pay iti export industry iti Rehion Uno ti kangrunaan a gagem ti maisayangkat nga Export Coaching Seminar on Costing and Pricing dagiti produkto a pang- export.

Ti nasao a training and seminar ket maaramid iti maysa a nalatak nga hotel ditoy Siudad ti Laoag inton Hunio 18 aldaw ti Mierkoles.

Kuna ni Ms. Nicole Rudio, PESO Head iti kapitolio probinsial nga inimbitaran ti Department of Trade and Industry daytoy kas kabinnadang ti Manila FAME Roadshow.

Daytoy ket paset pay laeng iti Manila FAME Roadshow a bumisita iti Region One nangrugi idi Hunio 16 agingga iti Hunio 20, 2014.

Mainaig iti daytoy, aw-awisen ni Ms. Rudio dagiti addaan iti negosio nga adda pannakainaigna  iti panagaramid ti furniture, home decor, holiday ken gifts decor, fashion accessories ken apparel, arts and craft, ceramics, outdoor products ken textiles.

Nairanta daytoy kadagiti addaan ti negosio tapno mapapigsa pay ti level dagiti produkto ken maisabay iti export level.

Daytoy ket awan ti bayadan ken agturong laeng iti opisina ti PESO tapno makiuman ken mangala iti confirmation slip wenno agturong ti DTI Laoag City.

Immun-una ngem iti daytoy, kalikaguman ni Ilocos Norte Gob. Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos a mapapigsa ken mapapintas pay ti panagaramid ken pannakailako dagiti wooden furniture, accessories, earthenware ken dadduma pay para ti pannakailakoda saan laeng a ditoy pagilian ngem ketdi idiay pay ballasiw taaw. (PGIN-CMO)

POEA now requires returning OFWs to Thailand show employment contract; selective exemptions granted for Libya deployment

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

LAOAG CITY—While Filipino workers abroad who are returning to the country may no longer wait in long queues for their overseas employment certificates (OECs) with the government's Balik-Manggagawa Online Appointment System, the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Desk Office at the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol said that returning OFWs to Thailand and Libya are now required to show proof of employment contract before they can be issued an exit permit.

This came in the wake of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) May 23 advisory on partial deployment ban on newly-hired in Thailand, where martial law was declared by the Thai military. Though a total deployment ban in Libya advisory was issued on May 30, 2014, the POEA has issued another advisory on June 13, 2014 allowing certain skills category to be allowed to return to the war-torn country.

The exemptions for deployment to Libya as contained in the POEA Governing Board Resolution 09-2014 are: workers employed by diplomats, foreign embassies, missions, and international organizations in Libya; OFWs working in oil rigs platform provided that they will not pass through or spend their vacation in mainland Libya; those working for multinational companies, government hospitals and schools as well as for the Libyan National Oil Company; and Filipinos who are married to Libyan nationals.

For the second and third exemptions though, OFWs are required to present POLO-verified employer contingency plan for the evacuation and repatriation of the workers; and Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)-verified employer undertaking guaranteeing the safety of the workers during their stay on Libya, and readiness to immediately repatriate as circumstances may require and at no cost to the worker and the undertaking shall clearly state the exact location of the work site.

The exemption, the POEA added, may be withdrawn when the situation calls for it.

Earlier, Labor Usec. and acting POEA governing board chair Rebecca Chato said in a resolution that they issued the partial deployment ban in compliance to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) security alert level 2 or restriction phase in Thailand.

Every Tuesday on the second and last week of the month, representatives from the POEA, Overseas Workers Welfare Association, Department of Labor and Employment, Pag-ibig, Social Security System, National Bureau of Investigation and other concerned government agencies convene at the provincial Capitol auditorium to serve OFWs through a one-stop shop Kabayanihan Program initiated by the Marcos administration.

With the latest advisory from the POEA, Dolores Cortez, Ilocos Norte OFW desk officer said that returning OFWs to Libya and Thailand are now required to show additional requirements such as their employment contract, passport and visa in order to secure an OEC.

The exit permit or OEC must be shown at the Bureau of Immigration before leaving the country.

Meanwhile, the Balik-Manggagawa (BM) Online Appointment System of the POEA now makes transactions more convenient for vacationing OFWs who are returning to the same employers.

With the initiative, vacationing overseas Filipino workers can set an appointment with the POEA for the processing of their OECs online.

With an operational BM online, OFWs returning to the same employer can log on to the POEA website where they can fill out forms and submit the document for processing.

The POEA said that if the name of the employer indicated in the form matches the name of the employer in the POEA database, the system will readily approve the returning OFW’s “new record”.

The returning OFW only needs to pay the fees electronically and print out the OEC either at the comforts of their homes or wherever they are conducting the online transaction.

The OEC print out containing a bar code shall be presented to the immigration officer at the airport before departure.