Saturday, February 28, 2015

PGIN asks TIEZA to turn-over tourism sites in Pagudpud

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Laoag City—The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN)has requested the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to turn-over the administration, maintenance and operation of the Banua Presidential Rest House and Bagong Lipunan Lodge in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

The said edifices were built during the time of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr.

The two old buildings located along the national highway and on a slope of the northern Cordillera mountain ranges overlooking the South China Sea has been assigned to the Philippine Tourism Authority  and the local government unit of Pagupdud on May 31, 1990 but both have never been  operated and properly maintained since then, leading to its deterioration.

As the Ilocos Norte government continues to develop and promote various tourism destinations in the province, Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Portia Pamela Salenda, chairperson of the committee on tourism said these state-owned buildings, if properly maintained and operated can be a potential tourism revenue-generating project here.

In a draft provincial resolution certified as urgent by Ilocos Norte Gov. Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos, it states that is meant to encourage concerned authorities of TIEZA to allow the provincial government to manage both buildings and cause for its redevelopment and rehabilitation.

Under the 2015 annual investment program of Ilocos Norte, the provincial government has proposed at least P5 million for the improvement of the Pagudpud presidential rest house and P8 million for the redevelopment of the Bagong Lipunan Lodge to be implemented jointly by the local government of Ilocos Norte’s Engineering Office and the Department of Tourism.  

Like the MalacaƱang of the North which is now under the management of the provincial government after the PTA turned-over its administration to the latter, local officials here hope that the deteriorating government buildings in Pagudpud will finally be turned into income generating projects.

According to Ms. Salenda, the provincial government remains committed to develop idle government properties to spur economic development particularly to host communities.

Radio journalist shot dead in Bohol

Bangkok—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Philippine authorities to investigate the murder on Saturday of radio journalist Maurito Lim and bring the assailant to justice.

A gunman shot Mr. Lim once in the head at around 11 a.m. after the journalist arrived for his regular "Chairman Mao On Board" news program at dyRD radio station in Bohol province's Tagbilaran City, according to news reports. The assailant fled the scene on a motorcycle, the reports said.

Mr. Lim underwent emergency surgery at Tagbilaran City's Governor Celestino Gallares Hospital for a bullet wound in his jaw and face, but died in the afternoon, news reports said.

Police said they were examining closed-circuit television camera footage of the scene to identify the gunman, news reports said. Police also said they were investigating whether Lim's death was related to his journalism

Leo Udtuhan, vice chairman of the Tagbilaran branch of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, told reporters that Lim's broadcast reports often alleged local official involvement in the illegal drug trade, according to news reports.

“Maurito Lim's murder shows that the killers of journalists are as emboldened as ever under President Benigno Aquino's watch,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. “The Philippines will remain one of the world's most dangerous places to be a journalist until President Aquino's government shows stronger resolve in prosecuting cases like Lim's and breaking the cycle of impunity in all media murders.”

Mr. Aquino said in an October 2014 speech that his government aimed to stop attacks on the press “until this number reaches zero,” according to news reports. At least nine journalists have been killed for their work since Mr. Aquino was elected president in May 2010, according to CPJ research. In the same period, 18 reporters, including Lim, have been killed in cases where the motive is unclear. 

The Philippines ranks third on CPJ's Impunity Index, a global measure of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country's population. More journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in the Philippines than anywhere apart from Iraq and Syria since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992. (CPJ)

Batac council job order workers undergo surprise drug test

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff reporter

Batac City—Vice Mayor and Sangguniang Panlungsod presiding officer Ronald Allan M. Nalupta reported that all 21 job order workers of the council underwent an on-the-spot drug test on Feb. 4 at the council’s session hall

Mr. Nalupta explained that this is not the first surprise drug test for the said workers as this is one of the prerequisites for their contract renewal.

However, he also stressed that the drug testing is not forced upon them as they had the prerogative to reject the drug testing. Those who would choose not to undergo drug testing would not be re-hired.

Most of the job order workers of the council are secretaries or assistants of councilors. The drug testing is also only being done at the council.

Mr. Nalupta explained further that since job order workers need renewal every six months, they are the only ones subjected to surprise drug testing. Permanent employees at the council also undergo the same procedure but on a less frequency.

Mr. Nalupta also disclosed that this year’s drug testing expense is sourced from the job order employees themselves after the Commission on Audit disallowed the drug testing expense after being allowed in the past. The drug testing cost P55 per employee.

As for the drug test results, Mr. Nalupta said those who tested negative are immediately renewed while those who tested positive are not renewed.

Mr. Nalupta related that one employee has tested positive last year. The said employee was tested again and with the same result was later terminated.

City health office medical technologist Joy Racacho said methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” stays in a person’s system for three to four days while it is 10 days for marijuana.

As such, she said drug testing should be held on-the-spot or unannounced.

Ms. Racacho confirmed all the job order workers who underwent the said procedure were all negative based on their urine rapid tests. The said test produce results after five minutes.

Should an employee test positive, Ms. Racacho said a confirmatory test would be done at a hospital.

In a random interview with the job order employees, they said they are in favor of the surprise drug test to prove that they are not users of any illegal drugs.

The surprise drug testing was a special request of the vice mayor to the city health officer Dr. Alice Agbayani.

Panawenen, Kaillian

Ni Rowena D. Formoso

Kageddan ti panaglupos ti panawen ti pangbalbaliw ti pagalagadan ti Departamento ti Edukasyon. Daytoy ti mangipasimudaag ti saan nga magawidan nga pangdur-as ti biag.

Tawen 2015 ti ibagbaga da nga International Competent ta ti intero nga pagilian nga Pilipinas masapul nga sisasaganan iti aw-awagan da nga globalisasyon. Sisasagana kadin ti Pilipinas nga sumango ti karit ti sangalubungan?

Kitaen tayo man ti rupa ti benneg ti edukasyon. Babaen ti pigsa ti pwersa dagiti agkakalaing nga lider ti edukasyon, idadauluan ni Brother Armin Luistro, nasabalianen iti kurikulum. Daytoy ti aw-awagan tayo ti K to 12.

Ti K to 12 ket isu ti kangrunaan nga programa-edukasyon ni Presidente Benigno Aquino baeten ti Republic Act 10157. Daytoy ket immuna nga naiyam-amo idi tawen 2011-2012.

Daytoy a kabbaro nga kurikulum ket kalikaguman na nga amin nga agbasa ket malpasna  iti Kindergarten ken 12 a tawen iti basic education (6 years iti primarya ken 4 years iti sekundarya ken dua a tawen iti Senior High School [SHS]) tapno maikkan iti naan-anay a laing, makapataod ti makunkuna a lifelong learners ken maisagana dagiti agturpos iti maikatlo a tukad ti edukasyon para iti trabaho ken iti panagnegosyo (entrepreneurship).

Ti pagilyan tayo a Pilipinas laeng ti maysa kadagiti tallo a marigrigat nga pagilyan ti mangsursurot ti sangapulo a tawen ti basic education cycle.

Intayo man inngedan dagiti sumagmamano nga saludsod maipanggep ti programa ti edukasyon a K to 12.

1.      Kaano nga maipatungpal ti programa a K to 12?
Daytoy ket nangrugi pay laeng nga naipatungpal idi SY 2011-2012. Inawagan da daytoy idi nga Universal Kindergarten.  Daytoy nga kabbaro a kurikulum ket mangrugi iti Kindergarten agpatingga iti grade 6. Ti sumaruno nga tukad ket maawaganen iti Grade 7 (High school year 1) mga naiyimplimentar iti SY 2012-2013. Ti maudi nga lebel ket iti Grade 11 nga maiyam-amo intono SY 2016-2017 ket ti Grade 12 nga maiimplimentar intono SY 2017-2018. Ti umuna nga Batch ti estudyante iti programa a K to 12 ket agturpos da intono March 2018.

2.     Sadinno a mainayon ti dua a tawen iti hayskul?
Ti dua a tawen ket mainayon to iti uppat a tawen ti hayskul. Awagan tayo a Senior High School (SHS).

3.     Apay nga suruten tayo ti sangapulo ket dua a tawen (12) a tawen saan ket a sangapulo ket maysa (11) a tawen?
Ti sangapulo ket dua a tawen (12) ket mapanpaneknekan nga isu ti marekogkognisar ti ballasiw taaw (i.e. the Bologna and Washington Accords).

Ti pagilyan a Singapore, sursuruten na ti sangapulo ket maysa (11) nga tawen ti edukasyon, ngem sursuruten da pay ti sangapulo ket uppat (14) a tawen ti pre-university education.

4.     Sulbaren ngata ti K to 12 iti drop-out problem to eskwelaan?
Daytoy a kurikulum (K to 12) ket ipalubos na a makasursuro a nalaing dagiti ubbing tapno makabael da nga makasurot iti leksyon. Daytoy ti mangsulbar ti problema ti drop-out gapu ta aglallalo a matulungan da iti pakarigatan da a leksyon da.

5.     Ana ti mangpatalged nga dagiti nagradwar  ti K to 12 ket nalaka da nga makasapul iti trabaho?
Ti Department of Education (DepEd) ket makitulag kadagiti organisasyon ti pangngedan, iti lokal ken baniaga, gunglo  dagiti komersyo ken industriya tapno amin nga agturpos iti sirok ti K to 12 ket maipangpangruna da a maala kadagiti pagsapulan.

Dagiti agad-adal  ket masapul nga maipasa da amin a kompitensi tapno makaala da ti Certificate of Competency (COC’s) ken National Certification (NC’s I,II). Dagitoy ket maiyannatop iti regulasyon nga ipaay iti TESDA wenno Technical Education Skills Development Authority.

6.     Kasanu nga matulungan iti programa a K to 12 dagiti estudyante nga agngayangay nga ag-kolehiyo?
Ti programa a K to 12 iti makunkuna nga Basic Education Curriculum ket maiyannatop iti College Readiness Standards nga maiyannatop met iti pagalagadan ti Commission on Higher Education wenno CHED,nga nagisimpa kadagiti kompitensi nga kasapulan dagiti agradwar iti K to 12 tapno maisagana da iti kolehiyo. Ipayababa ti CHED dagiti makunkuna nga general education subjects iti k to 12, tapno masigurado ti pannakaisuro dagiti kabagasan nga kompitensi para kadagiti agbasbasa. Daytoy ti mangitunda ti pannakapayababa ti bilang ti tawen ti panagbasa iti kolehiyo, nga agbunga met ti pannakapabassit ti gastwen dagiti nagannak nga agpabasa.

7.     Kasanu met ngarud ti mainayon nga dua a tawen a gastwen dagiti nagannak?
Ti mainayon a Grade 11 ken Grade 12 ket maited nga libre iti amin nga publiko nga eskwelaan.

Iti tulong ti CHED, ipamuspusan na nga pababaen ti panagbasa iti kolehiyo. Tumulong pay ti TESDA nga maaddaan dagiti agradwar ti makunkuna nga National Certification (NC), tapno matulungan dagiti agradwar iti nalaklaka a panagsapol  da iti trabaho da.

8.     Kasapulan kadi a dumalan nga umuna iti Kindergarten ti agbasa sakbay nga ag-Grade 1?
Wen. Nakalanad iti Republic Act No. 10157 wenno ti Kindergarten Education Act, nga masapul a dumalan nga umuna ti Kindergarten ti ubing nga agbasa kas paset ti Basic Education System nga isu met ti pasaporte ti ubing ti pannakaawat na iti Grade One.

9.     Mabalin kadi nga agrapit ti Day care Program iti LGU’s ken DepEd Kindergarten?
Awan ti pangrapit na. Dagiti Day Care ti LGU’s ket ugguren da dagiti ubbing nga agtawen uppat (4) agpababa, idinto ta ti DepEd Kindergarten Program ket isuruda dagiti ubbing nga agtawen lima(5).

10. Dagiti kadi estudyante ti mangpili iti alaen da nga kurso wenno DepEd ti mangngeddeng, wenno dumalan da ti makunkuna nga assessment wenno pannubok?
Dagiti ubbing ti dumalan iti naduma-duma nga pannubok base iti napatibker nga kompitensi. Mairaman ditoy ti Aptitude test, Career Assessment Exam wenno Occupational Interest Inventory iti lebel sekundarya. Dagitoy ti mangpaneknek ti kabaelan ken kinalaing dagiti agad-adal.

Adda panagkakasilpo na manipud Kindergarten agpatingga iti Grade 12. Agpatinggan iti teknikal nga agtultuloy ti nangato a tukad iti kolehiyo. Agtitinnulong ti DepEd, barangay ken NGO’s para ti us-usto nga pannakaiyam-ammo ti programa nga K to 12 agpatingga ti naan-anay nga pannakaaramat daytoy a programa.

Ti naan-anay nga pannakaadaptar iti K to 12 ket isu ti mangsungbat ti pagkasapulan tapno mapasayaat ti kinalaing ken kinasirib dagiti agbasbasa nangnangruna ti agdama a karit ti sangalubungan (ASEAN Integration). Saan nga umiso ti sangapulo a tawen nga sikulo ti panagbasa. Kas pammaneknek, dagiti Pilipino a mapan agtrabaho diay ballasiw taaw ket saan nga insigida a marekognisar a kas propesyunal gapu ta ti sangapulo a tawen ket saan nga isu ti pagrukudan iti intero a lubong.

Ti saludsod nga intayo man ngarud idasar iti amin nga kakailian, saan ngata a panawenen, gayyem?

(Ni Mrs. Formoso ket madama nga maestra iti Ilocos Norte Regional School of Fisheries—Ed)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Ilocos Times February 23-March 1, 2015

Click the photo for the pdf file

BBL on the rocks

#SAF44 the blame game

National Greening Program promising, but more is needed

A recent study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) found some promise in the government’s National Greening Program but suggests there is still room for improvement in areas of information management, monitoring, and fund management.

The Policy Note titled “The National Greening Program: Hope for our Balding Forests” written by Dr. Danilo Israel and Maria Diyina Gem Arbo, PIDS senior research fellow and research analyst, respectively, discusses the performance of the NGP, ways to improve its implementation mechanisms, and the newly commenced impact assessment project being conducted by PIDS.

The NGP launched in 2011 to plant 1.5 million seedlings in 1.5 hectares over a period of six years is an attempt by the government to include objectives beyond restoring forest areas, such as reducing poverty; promoting food security, environmental stability, and biodiversity conservation; and enhancing climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“The NGP has provided some measure of hope for the recovery of our already balding forests, an objective that previous national reforestation programs have miserably failed to achieve,” say the authors.

Despite the achievements of the program, there are plenty of areas for improvement, such as data and information gathering and analysis; monitoring and inspection of tree survival; access to funds and increased personnel; and reporting and auditing practices.

The rate of deforestation in the Philippines over the past century is a thing of notoriety. The Philippines is one of the 17 mega diversity countries.  Conservation International ranks the country fourth on the most threatened forest hotspot.  Annually, from 2000 to 2005, the country lost 1.98 percent or 157,400 hectares of forestsone of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.

Deforestation is fundamentally caused by human demand. There are laws in place, but the lack of implementation makes it difficult to properly regulate logging, mining, and land conversion to areas of agriculture or settlement.

While it can be argued that social progress is worth the cost, the rate at which deforestation occurs is unsustainable.

Without inclusive programs, habitats, biodiversity, and the entire ecosystem remain in peril. Deforestation also leads to spikes of carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

It is clear that it isn’t enough to reintroduce trees into deforested land. A comprehensive reforestation program is what the NGP hopes to achieve.

To improve and enhance the NGP’s performance, the authors of the study emphasize addressing the challenges that slow its progress.

Firstly, substantive data must be gathered and provided to fully come up with a substantive picture of the program’s progress.

The available data—exceeding planting sites and actual target per hectare by 14 percent by the end of 2013, and yet missing the yearly seedling target per year—are not enough to determine whether or not the NGP is on the way to achieve its objectives.

Secondly, monitoring and inspection of trees have to be enforced to monitor, ensure, and increase the rate of survival, which currently sits at 61 percent. The goal is 85 percent.

The Commission on Audit (COA) criticized the Department of Environment and Natural Resources report on the NGP for not having an inspection or monitoring system for the survival rate of the seedlings. The program focused its evaluation too much on quantity instead of quality, according to the COA report.

That same year, a study, also by Israel, claimed that participants on the ground viewed the program’s performance positively. It increased livelihood opportunities and improved environmental condition. But delays in availability of mobilization fund and limited personnel have held back NGP performance, making it only partially effective and efficient.

The framework for the impact assessment of the NGP contains four components—economic, social, environmental, and institutional. All of which will be evaluated as the program continues, hopefully to provide a more in-depth picture for studies to improve implementation mechanisms for the NGP and for future reforestation programs. (PIDS)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FAO food price index declines in January, cereal output poised for record

Wheat, soy oil, pork among main drivers, helped by weaker euro and lower oil prices

Rome—The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index continued to decline in January, averaging 182.7 points for the month, or 1.9 percent below its December 2014 level.

Lower prices reflect strong production expectations as FAO also raised its 2014 forecast for world cereal production to a record high and noted that early indications for crops in 2015 are favorable.

The index has been on a downward path since April 2014. The January decline was partly influenced by robust inventories, continued strength in the U.S. dollar and weak crude oil prices.

FAO's Food Price Index is a trade-weighted index that tracks prices of five major food commodity groups on international markets. It aggregates price sub-indices of cereals, meat, dairy products, vegetable oils and sugar.

Strong supply conditions push down wheat, pork and soy oil
The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 177.4 points in January, down 3.6 percent from the previous month and is now 34 percent below its June 2008 peak. International wheat prices fell by 7 percent from December, reflecting ample supply conditions.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Index also fell significantly to 156.0 points, down 2.9 percent from the previous month and is now at its lowest level since October 2009. The decline was driven largely by ample supplies of soy oil and lower crude oil prices, which erode the attractiveness of using vegetable oils for biodiesel.

The FAO Meat Price Index declined 1.6 percent during the month to average 194.3 points. The decline was partly brought about by the U.S. dollar's strength, notably against the euro, as well as by abundant global pigmeat availability for export.

The FAO Dairy Price Index was stable in January, averaging 173.8 points as rising butter prices offset a decline in prices - spurred in part by the weakening euro - for cheese and skimmed milk powders.

The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 217.7 points, also virtually unchanged from December.

The meat index alone has risen since January 2014, increasing 6.6 percent. The dairy index has seen the largest drop, declining 35 percent since the same period 12 months earlier.

Global inventory rate now 50% higher than in 2008
Meanwhile, the cereal output estimate for 2014 was raised to 2,534 million tons, driven higher by improved prospects for coarse grains, according to FAO's latest Cereal Supply and Demand Brief.

As for the forthcoming 2015 season, the winter wheat crops now in the ground in the northern hemisphere generally enjoyed propitious weather and more acreage was sown in North America and the Near East, offsetting some decreases in the Russian Federation and parts of Far East Asia. Overall conditions for maize crops in the southern hemisphere are also satisfactory, although FAO noted that lower prices for maize has led to reduced plantings in South America.

Globally, 1,104 million tons of cereals will be used for food consumption, up 1.1 percent from the previous year.

Global cereal stocks in 2015 are forecast at around 623 million tons, up 8 percent from a year earlier. Inventories of wheat and maize are anticipated to grow, while those for rice are poised to drop by about 4 million tons in 2015, with notable reductions in India, Indonesia and Thailand.

As a result the global cereal stock-to-use ratio for 2014/15 should rise to 25.0 percent, its highest level in more than a decade and well above the historic low of 18.4 percent recorded in 2007/08, a time of volatile international food commodity prices.

Amazement and familiarity

“A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country.” This is Christ’s indictment against the people of his own place who, instead of being amazed and thankful for having among them not only a very special person but the very son of God, found Christ too much for them, and were in fact scandalized by him.

This is what familiarity is all about and what it produces. As an adage would put it, familiarity breeds contempt. It is the state of getting too accustomed to God and to his goodness such that we would not feel the urge anymore to thank and praise him for everything that we have and enjoy, since all these things come from him.

It is a very common danger to us, and is at bottom a result of letting simply our senses, feelings and our other ways of purely human estimation to guide us rather than our faith, and its necessary companions of hope and charity.

With this frame of mind, we sooner or later would get used to things and would fall into routine. We would start building our own world that would depend only on our very limited and fragile powers. Our worldview would have us as the very center of the universe. Everything would be regarded exclusively in relation to us.

Little by little, we would be isolating ourselves from others, and especially from God. What would worsen things is the false sensation that we can be on our own, that we can afford not to be related to others because of the new technologies that can intoxicate us into thinking that we are very powerful.

We have to be more aware of this danger of familiarity and install the necessary defenses against it. More than that, we have to aggressively cultivate the art of always being amazed at God and at all his works. That should be the proper state for us to be in.

We have to understand, though, that this abiding state of amazement that we should try to develop is not a matter simply of sensations. Of course, it would be good if we can always feel amazed and in awe. But given the limitations of our bodily organism, we cannot expect that to happen all the time.

The ideal abiding state of amazement is more a matter of conviction, of something spiritual, moral and supernatural. It should be the result of grace that is corresponded to generously and heroically by us.

It is a state of amazement that sooner or later, of course, will have some external manifestations like an aura of serenity and confidence even in the midst of great trials and suffering. It will most likely show itself in the lilt in one’s voice, optimism in his reactions to events, a smile, a warm word of praise and encouragement to others, etc.

To be sure, God will always give us this grace. The problematic area is our correspondence to that grace. In this regard, we should try to pray and meditate on God’s word. Let’s see to it that we get to relish the spirit behind the word of God as presented to us in Bible.

We have to be wary of our tendency to go through God’s word in a mechanical way. We can produce the sound, we can use the word in some sensible and intelligible way, but still miss the very spirit of the word. We can still miss God and ignore his will, because our heart is still not in God’s word.

Besides, we need to develop a deepening sense of total dependence on God. Let’s see to it that our talents, faculties and powers, our achievements do not blunt, but rather sharpen this sense of dependence.

We have to be humble to acknowledge our nothingness and feel ever more sharply our need to go to God. Let’s try to imitate the attitude of those who went to Christ for some miraculous cure and relief of their incurable diseases and insoluble predicaments.

In this regard, let’s have the mind, for example, of Jairus, the father of the dying daughter, the woman sick for long with a hemorrhage, the paralytic who had to be lowered from the roof just to get near Christ, etc. All showed their extreme need to go to Christ.

May it be that all the blessings we enjoy at the moment do not undermine this great need, because that is crucial in developing and keeping this sense of amazement and awe. Let’s deepen our humility! 

Bangsamoro Basic Law, a booby trap

By Alfredo C. Garvida Jr.

This contributor agrees with the assertion of the MILF that they are affected too by the bloody, treacherous ambuscade their men and their allies, identified as BIFF and members of the murderous Ampatuan clan's private armies, have inflicted on the PNP Special Action Force (SAF). They are affected indeed! But not emotionally, as the rest of the Filipinos are, for this tragic episode of the government's chronic goal to impose peace in Mindanao has now threatened to wipe out any chance of having the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) approved by congress. 

The MILF and some politician armchair directors of field combats, the likes of Rodrigo Duterte, are blaming the brutal slaying of the 44 SAF members on non-coordination by the police operatives with the MILF when they tried to arrest two well known international terrorists who were well entrenched inside the MILF's de facto territory. And people are being swayed into believing that indeed the non-coordination was the culprit.

Weighing the facts in a passionless stance, one will find in the end that Duterte and his MILF friends were incorrect in their non-coordination blame on the fallen 44's massacre with one simple question: What were those two terrorists doing in the MILF camp? They were being cuddled, protected like babies inside the rebel "territory" while the international community was earnestly trying to bring them to justice for the senseless deaths of countless innocent people here and abroad. And we want to coordinate with people who have given them protection and sanctuary? 

You coordinate with another party when you trust that party. Obviously, and rightly so, the government did not trust the MILF that they would surrender the two terrorists upon demand. For if the MILF were worth of any trust from the government, these secessionists would have arrested or at least effected the arrest of the two terrorists even without demand from the government.

The massacre of the 44 SAF troopers clearly defines the degree of sincerity the MILF has on the peace process. Some people, including certain gov’t spokesmen have characterized the carnage as the result of “misencounter” between this PNP special unit and the MILF. We would say this is a blatant misdirection to the truth, lest the firefight would have not lasted all day; lest the massacred troopers would have not been mutilated, robbed and shot overwhelmingly at close range even when they were already dead or near death. The perpetrators did not possess any shred of dignity of a warrior for cause, as what the MILF vainly attempts to characterize their marauding warriors to be. They were simply the bandits that the civilized Filipinos have known them to be. 

What is so painful and disheartening to know was the refusal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to go to the rescue of the beleaguered policemen because as its Chief of Staff, Gen. Catapang, has said, they were bound by the peace process agreement. What a tragic manifestation to hear from the highest officer of the Philippine Armed Forces, given the constitutional provision that the AFP is mandated to be the protector of the people; and the people they were supposed to protect were no ordinary “protectees” but were government agents who were trying to enforce the law of the land. 

Sen. Alan Cayetano was right in asserting that the lives of the 44 fallen policemen were sacrificed in the name of the peace process. Catapang's defense on his failure to aid or reinforce the SAF smacks of failure of character in leadership at his end requiring thus the need for his immediate relief from the highest position of the AFP's hierarchy. For leadership, as Gen Norman Schwarzkoff has maintained, "[I]s a potent combination of strategy and character, but if you have to be without one, be without the strategy."

People have been blaming non-coordination by the police with the MILF and the military as the culprit in this senseless bloodshed. This is a bull full of crap--with my sincerest apology for the brutality of this frankness! What was the need to coordinate with the AFP when every time the police did that the mission to get Marwan, the internationally wanted terrorist in whose bloody hands hundreds of innocent lives were lost, would fail? And there was no need to coordinate with the MILF either for the mere fact that Marwan was well entrenched inside their territory speaks well of these pseudo rebels' sincerity to peace. The police were right to go on their own although the planning and execution were suspect. But this was no excuse for Catapang and the AFP to foreclose any rescue operation on the SAF commandos at the time they needed help. 

President Aquino, whose fingerprints are visible all over this whole mess, still wants the peace process to proceed. We agree; it must proceed! But not this time yet, Mr. President, and not with these people anyway whose reverence to truth and degree of sincerity to peace are way off the mark of our government's objectives in Mindanao. The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) must be scrapped altogether and we must start on a peace process that is responsive to real peace and security for the Filipino people. To give the MILF a wide latitude of autonomy would be akin to planting a time bomb right in the heart of Metro Manila. If Marwan and his terrorist pal, Usman, were given sanctuary by the MILF for the past 12 years, training hundreds of terrorists and bomb makers while these pseudo rebels were yet un-autonomous, what peril will we be facing when they will finally get that autonomy the BBL badly covets in their behalf? How many Marwans and Usmans will live with them; and how will our government contain their movements, their assimilation with the rest of society. How will we stop these new Marwans from traveling to Manila or anywhere else in the country to plant bombs without identifying their movements right inside the separatists' territory, a prerogative that will be fully absolute for the MILF but not for our government under the Bangsamoro Basic Law? Trust is the key to peace, sadly, the MILF is unworthy of it.  

Mindanao needs a massive socio-economic development to overcome poverty and religious and cultural subjugation in its Muslim-dominated parts. Political autonomy is not the answer to peace; neither appeasement to warrior clans or groups will do. Improve their economy and social existence, like increasing their employment potential and affording them better education and health care, and we will find the inhabitants, from where the warriors come, appeased. And the ambitious, covetous Moro-Islamic leaders will have no men to wage atrocity upon our people. 

The delicate topic of human sexuality

BACK in 1995, the Vatican issued a document that to me holds special and urgent relevance today. It’s entitled, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, and precisely talks about a topic that should be made mainstream.

It needs to be brought out more in the open. Given the many issues in this area that have managed to generate a lot of confusion and complications, the document offers a basic and comprehensive primer especially to parents who are the first teachers and formators of their children.

What we have in society only reflects and is a result of what we have in the families. If the families do not do well or even fail in the education of their children in human sexuality, we cannot expect a society that will have a healthy attitude toward this very important aspect of human life.

The naked truth is that problems in this area have multiplied not only in number but also in kind. Wherever we go, even if we just take a cursory look around, we can immediately see that there are things that are not quite right or, shall we say, that at least raise eyebrows, provoke questions and concern, etc.

Pornography is now so easily accessible that even little innocent children can already get exposed to them. Teen-age pregnancy is on the rise, together with casual sex and hook-ups, STD, abortion, contraception, and illegitimate children. This is not to mention the rise of problems related to the confusion in sexual identity.

There is a tendency not to talk about these issues, except when they involve people who are supposed to be the teachers, defenders and models of healthy human sexuality either in the state of marriage or celibacy.

When these latter cases happen, you can be sure that a lot of talk will take place. People like to feast on scandals. But if the same problems involve those who consider themselves ‘liberated,’ then hardly anything is heard unless violence or killing is committed, or some discrimination is done. I find this funny.

In a way, there is good reason not to talk too openly about human sexuality, because it touches on very private, personal, confidential matters. Besides, it’s such a sticky thing that it would require some precautions before talking about it. There are some people who are so sensitive that the mere mention of the word, ‘sex,’ would already make them wild.

But we really do have great need now, more than ever, to talk about this topic both openly and discreetly, realistically and prudently. Obviously, the more proper venue for this talk would be within the family, and personal conversations between parents and children, the father with the boys, and the mother with the girls.

Discussions of this topic in public should be done in subsidiary roles, focusing more on explanations and reminders of relevant moral principles than on displaying certain techniques, more on appeal to virtues than on simply enumerating a list of do’s and don’ts.

These public discussions should not replace the primordial duty of parents to be the primary teachers of their children in human sexuality. These discussions are supposed to help parents fulfill their duty as teachers to their children.

We have to stress the original beauty and truth of human sexuality, its great positive and constructive power and contribution to our lives. And so we have to highlight its origin in our human nature as designed by our Creator himself. We therefore cannot help but view human sexuality always within the framework of our Christian faith.

From there, we have to stress why our human sexuality is to be lived always in the context of truth and love, that is, in chastity, and not just in the context of our feelings and passions, and other worldly trends and some ideologies detached or even hostile to the faith.

Since we cannot avoid having some conflicting discussions in this topic, we have to have a clear idea of the distinction between good tolerance and bad tolerance, between healthy open-mindedness and the unhealthy one.

More importantly, we have to find ways to make this concern of teaching the truth and meaning of human sexuality an ongoing affair. Some structures have to be put up to continually help parents effectively discharge their duty of being teachers to their children, especially in the area of human sexuality.

All parties should be involved hereindividual persons, parents, teachers, clergy, media, government, etc. Let’s hope that we can create a world where the whole truth and beauty of human sexuality is lived.

Qualities of an effective teacher

By Aileen V. Joaquin

Teaching is an exciting and challenging job.  As it is full of commitment by the teacher, it is also rewarding. It is a chance to encourage and support others to achieve their maximum potential.  Academic requirements are necessary to become a good teacher. Likewise, good qualities coupled with numerous skills and positive values are also important in practicing the teaching profession in order to effectively teach students who will become responsible and highly productive learners.  These students will be the leaders of tomorrow so they deserve an effective instruction by the teacher. The desirable qualities of a teacher makes him an outstanding teacher. Besides, an effective teacher is a depot of knowledge, a practitioner of commendable values and a master of varied skills in order to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of the school community it serves.

The effectiveness of a teacher can be measured by his qualities and skills in the pursuit of his career or profession.  An effective teacher is one who is in constant search for knowledge. The best teacher is one who is very knowledgeable about the subject matter.  It is expected that he is more knowledgeable than his students. He teaches his students and helps them learn the concepts, information or ideas for he is the transmitter of knowledge. He conveys information about a certain subject. As a teacher, he organizes his ideas so it is easier for him to communicate and easily understood by his students. In addition, he is always prepared to answer all questions and doubts of his learners. Hence, there is a need for him to read and obtain information from different sources because how can he give or impart information if he doesn’t have enough knowledge. He is knowledgeable in engaging with students with different personality in order to grip their attention in all discussions. Additionally, he needs to possess effective skills in correcting his students that promote positive behaviors and change in the classroom. Besides, an effective teacher acquires basic knowledge on good classroom management skills and ensures worthy students behavior, effective study and work habit, and a deep sense of respect in the classroom. 

A committed teacher manifests commitment in rendering his best services in the field of his profession. He firmly believes that productivity doesn’t come as an accident. Effective teaching is the result of a commitment to excellence in doing his roles as a teacher. Excellence is doing his best as possibly as he can. Commitment is also the outcome of intelligent planning and focused determination. There is a need to have a commitment to a relentless pursuit of one’s goal—a commitment to produce quality output.  This will enable him to attain success and contentment in teaching.  Furthermore, commitment is doing an action and it is not an utterance of word or words only.  As a teacher, he is certain that education is a shared responsibility and commitment of teachers, students and supportive parents with the assistance of stakeholders.

Another indication of an effective teacher is being compassionate. A compassionate teacher is caring, emphatic and able to respond to people. Compassion in teaching is a necessity, it is not an amenity. Without compassion, teaching is hopeless. It is the greatest treasure of a teacher. He practices compassion to make his students happy. His duty on earth is to widen his circle of compassion to embrace all his students regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, high tech gadgets like computers, cellular phones and many more are marvelous tools but they cannot replace the teacher’s compassion and love. A teacher’s attitude is genuine. He shows kindness and motivates the students by providing them varied activities and experiences to make their lives fruitful and meaningful. He is there to offer full learning experiences and to flourish interest in inspiring the students’ creativity. This is very fundamental in teaching because students learn best when they are comfortable in the classroom. 

In addition, an effective teacher equips himself with good communication skills.  A communicative teacher encourages effective two-way communication. One mark of a great teacher is the ability to lead his students through good communication.

Moreover, a flexible teacher is considered an effective teacher. He willingly alters plan and directions which help students in moving toward their goals in life.  A flexible teacher stays very long in the teaching profession. No day is distinctive in the life a teacher. He plans and teaches his lessons daily.  In doing his roles as a teacher, he meets difficulties or challenges that impede the realization of his learning objectives. He cannot do away with interruptions that lead to distraction on the momentum of his class. He is being disturbed because these students upset him. Unfortunately, a teacher cannot change the school system. He cannot do away with disruptions that occur in his class each day. What he can alter is his own attitude about these interruptions. Being flexible and adaptable will help him deal with the many pressures of the work while allowing him to keep his stability.  A flexible teacher feels satisfied because he is willing to change his outlook and teaching methods in order to achieve quality teaching. He also utilizes a variety of methods and strategies which are suited to the level of the learners. He refines his way of teaching over and over again.  He does not teach the same way and use the same instructional materials year after year. He employs the most up-to-date teaching methods by using ICT gadgets especially nowadays that we are living in this era of high technology. Learners comprehend their lessons easier and faster when there are more senses that are involved. The teacher employs PowerPoint presentation, video presentation and others to make teaching interesting.

A teacher can become a real educator if he adjusts and changes his                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   instruction depending on who is in the classroom and the extent to which these students are achieving. An effective teacher begins with the belief that students are smart and they can be attracted to learn. He utilizes or capitalizes on the strengths of his students and do something to help them improve on their weaknesses regardless of their own experience, knowledge, and skill.

An effective teacher shows competence in his teaching.  As a competent teacher, he gives technical assistance to his co-teachers so that they will be empowered and become competent in their teaching. He is close to his students in intellectual as well as psychological ways.  He is there to empower others on the use of intelligence in making wise decisions on what is best to his learners.

It is also vital for a teacher to be positive all the time. He thinks positively and enthusiastically about his students that they are capable of becoming best learners. Likewise, it is also essential for a teacher to be value-based.  A value-oriented teacher focuses upon the worth and dignity of his learners.  If knowledge is important, positive values are also vital.

In summary, a highly effective teacher can have an enriching effect on the daily lives of his students because of his impact for a lifelong educational and career aspirations. We know empirically that an effective teacher also has a direct influence in enhancing student learning. Studies on teacher quality support the fact that an effective teacher does not only make students feel good about school and learning, but also make their work actually results in increased student achievement.  Personal and professional qualities are associated with the attainment of higher levels of student achievement. Content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, verbal ability, and ability to utilize a wide-range of teaching strategies skillfully motivate the interest of the students that spell an effective and a successful teacher.

Ultimately, as a teacher, he is definitely confident that when he teaches his lessons, his noble purpose is to make teaching and learning effective. Learning takes place better when a teacher adjusts to the curriculum, approaches, methods and pacing in order to cater to the students’ needs.  Further, learning has more impact in the life of learners and comprehend the lesson well if there are more senses that are involved, accordingly, using high tech gadgets   in teaching is also laudable. He situates a priority on students’ needs through the use of curriculum guide in order that his students will get high ratings in the achievement test that is given at the end of the year.

Finally, the qualities of a teacher has something to do with learning.   Knowledge, basic skills and appropriate values of a teacher contribute a lot in attaining quality education. Hence, effective teaching entails the total disposition of the teacher. Teaching is a highest calling from the Lord.  Students crave for a teacher who can satisfy their thirst in quest for education and learning.   Are you one of the teachers who is ready to satisfy their thirst in hovering high to the level of excellence?  The answer is yours.

(Ms. Joaquin is a School Principal III and OIC of - Education Program Supervisor (Guidance and Values Education) in the City Schools Division of Batac)

Monday, February 23, 2015

PGIN tops DSWD’s 1st Gawad Listahanan Awards

Barangay Ranger Officers (BROs) in Isic-isic in Vintar, Ilocos Norte inspect the seedlings awarded to them by Governor Marcos on November 20, 2014. BROs are mountain forest rangers that are hired by the Provincial Government to protect Ilocos Norte’s upland forests and watersheds. (Alaric A. Yanos)
By Jennifer T. Pambid

In its effort to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in the province by improving the delivery of service and assistance to the poor, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) was recognized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in its very first Gawad Listahanan Awards held January 29, 2015.

Gawad Listahanan, or Data Utilization Awards, is conferred by the DSWD to local government units (LGUs) that have registered the most number of beneficiaries of their locally-funded programs in the Listahanan database of poor families through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

NHTS-PR is an information management system that makes available to national government agencies and other social protection stakeholders a database of poor families as reference in identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs and services.

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) head Corazon Lilian Rin personally received a plaque of appreciation and a cash incentive of P50,000from DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman.

Ms. Rin said Ilocos Norte Gov. Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos personally discussed a Memorandum of Agreement with the DSWD Central Office regarding the use of the NHTS-PR.

Governor Marcos greets one of the patients who availed of the free medical check-up, medicine and vitamins at Manang Imee’s Capitol Express in Bangui, Ilocos Norte on July 27, 2014. The Capitol Express is a roving one-stop-shop of government services. (Alaric A. Yanos)
“The NHTS-PR database was used by Governor Marcos to identify the beneficiaries of MDG localization. These families were categorized into ‘poor,’ ‘middle poor’ and ‘get away poor.’ This was our basis for prioritizing the poorest families by providing them protective services such as medical and dental missions, granting animal dispersal and other services,” Ms. Rin explained.

“Today we have quelled the growth in the poverty numbers, more importantly we have identified the different segments of the poor here in Ilocos Norte, particularly identifying the breakthrough poor—the poor who have in their power the skill and the ability and the commitment to break out of poverty through their own efforts with just a little help from the public sector. I am hopeful that the change in the poverty map will continue, having less in the coastal areas which we saw in 2010 and dwindling numbers in the interior upland zones,” Ms. Marcos said.

Model province in poverty reduction
According to Ms. Rin, DSWD Central Office has seen the significance of the NHTS-PR database in the improvement of the people’s lives in Ilocos Norte.
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos distributes tilapia fingerlings to indigent residents of Brgy. Tabucbuc in the municipality of Marcos on July 26, 2014. (Alaric A. Yanos)

Since 2010, Ms. Marcos has committed to achieving the primary goals of MDG, the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) worldwide initiative to eliminate extreme poverty and promote global partnership for development.

With the localization of the MDG in the province, the overall poverty incidence was trimmed down from 12.2% in 2009 into 9% in 2013.

Recognizing this major achievement, Ms. Soliman has cited Ilocos Norte as the model champion in poverty reduction in Region 1 last year.