Sunday, May 31, 2015

MMSU-College of Medicine opens this June

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

BATAC CITY—Ilocanos need not to go far from their families to study medicine or for treatment as the state-run Mariano Marcos State University announced the opening of its College of Medicine this June, expected to provide quality medical and healthcare education to aspiring Ilocano doctors.

Living to its long-time tradition of producing topnotchers in the fields of nursing, pharmacy and education among others, MMSU President Miriam E. Pascua said the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has officially approved the operation of the medical college with limited 25 slots to compose the first batch of enrollees.

“First, it would address the need for medical practitioners in our province because at present, we lack doctors who will attend to the needs of our patients. Imagine transporting our patients to Manila or Baguio for treatment which would be too expensive on the part of our provincemates,” Ms. Pascua said.

In 1996, MMSU proposed the opening of a medical school in the province but it was only last year that the university underwent rigid evaluation through members of the Regional Quality Assessment Team (RQAT).

The application was then submitted to the CHED for approval early this year for its operation on the first semester of Academic Year 2014-2015 this June.

Situated on a 2,635 square meters lot at the former site of the university motor pool near the College of Health and Sciences, the P40-million new building which is expected to be completed by October has six classrooms, six laboratory rooms, six comfort rooms, and a faculty room.

For the meantime, the COM will occupy the University Training Center (UTC) as its temporary building.

A modern laboratory has been in placed in the UTC for the use of the students.

According to Ms. Pascua, most of the faculty members are medical practitioners from the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City.

Veteran physicians Joven Cuanang and Marietta Baccay will serve as administrative consultants prior to the appointment of a full time dean. Dr. Cuanang is now the chairperson of the board of St. Luke’s College of Medicine after he retired as medical director of the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City and Makati Global City. He is one of the country’s top neurologists. Dr. Baccay, a pathologist, is chair of the Board of Medical Technology of the Professional Regulation Commission.

In preparation for the opening, chairpersons were identified earlier to lead the 17 departments which are grouped into two—the Basic Sciences Department (BSD) and the Clinical Sciences Department (CSD). The chairmen are either medical doctors or organic personnel of CHS.

The departments in the Basic Sciences are Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pathology, Research, Microbiology and Parasitology, and Preventive Medicine. In the Clinical Science, on the other hand, are Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics-Gynecology, Pediatrics, Neurological Sciences, Ophthalmology, Psychiatry, and Legal Medicine.

Backed by the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center, the new medical college is a dream come true for Ilocano residents as statistical data shows the actual shortage of doctors in the rural areas, which shed light on the need for a fourth medical school in the Ilocos Region. 

Data reveals a shortage of about four million jobs in the health industry worldwide. Hence, MMSU officials and a coalition of community supporters in Ilocos Norte have long been pushing for a medical school in the province to deal with an increasing shortage of doctors and specialists in the country.

To date, Region I has only three medical schools: Virgen Milagrosa University Foundation and Lyceum Northwestern University, both private schools in Pangasinan; and the University of Northern Philippines, a state university in Vigan City.

To fill in the first batch of medical students with a tuition fee pegged at P28,000 per semester, student-applicants shall undergo strict admission and only the best of 25 applicants will be admitted.

Admission requirements are the following: (1) National Medical Admission Test score of 50 and above; (2) Transcript of Records (original); (3) Diploma (original); (5) 4 2"x2" ID picture (with white background); (6) Certificate of Good Moral Character.

Application form can be obtained at the College of Medicine located at the UTC, MMSU in Batac Campus.

Applicants will also have to undergo interview which schedule is set to be announced by the university later. 

Ilocanos participate in voluntary HIV testing

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG City—Ilocanos in this northern part of Luzon has voluntarily submitted themselves to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) testing, the Department of Health continue to spearhead.

In support of the DOH declaration as National HIV Testing Week on May 11 to 15, acting Provincial Health Officer Josephin Ruedas said medical technologists are conducting free testing in three government hospitals in the province such as the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City, Laoag City General Hospital and the Gov. Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital also in Laoag City.

Ms. Ruedas hopes more at-risk individuals such as those working in videoke bars or any interested individual will have themselves tested as it is a means of protection not only for their own selves but also for their loved ones.

According to health practitioners, anyone who practices unsafe sex can get infected regardless of age, sex, race, income or sexual orientation. Hence, they are encouraging all people at risk for HIV to undergo testing.

Of those who availed the voluntary testing, Ms. Ruedas said none has been found positive yet.

She also added that they extended the testing until May 16 with a special HIV testing schedule on May 18 at the Ilocos Norte Provincial Jail.

Based on the latest record of the DOH released last February, there are about 23,709 HIV reported cases in the country.

Of these cases, at least 25 percent are 15 to 24 years old.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fast track road widening project, contractor urged

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—Motorists and commuters in the province urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and its contractor working on a P14.6 million road widening project along the national highway at Brgy. Nangalisan here in Laoag City to work double time to ease traffic woes particularly during rush hours. 

Dept. of Public Works and Highways’ Ilocos Norte first district engineer Nestor Pasion said the 520-meter long project commenced on February 12 and the contractor is given at least 155 days or until July 15 to finish the project.

According to Mr. Pasion, a local contractor, DJMC Construction is working overtime to complete the project ahead of schedule. As of press time, the progress of work is now at 80 percent complete.

For his part, Engr. Danilo Tuledanes has appealed to motorists and commuters to bear with the temporary inconvenience as his men are working double time to finish the project in three months instead of five months which is under the program of works.

Mr. Tuledanes said his men are now working full blast on the widening project.

Earlier, several motorists including some Regional Trial Court judges from Ilocos Sur who pass by San Nicolas town experience one-hour traffic on their way to the Marcos Hall of Justice in Laoag City.

Observers also noted a dump truck park on one lane which causes traffic.

Konting tiis na lang at matatapos na ang other lane para ma-open,” Mr. Pasion added.

The Ilocos Times May 25-31, 2015

Click photo for the PDF file

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Typhoon ‘Dodong’ beneficial to Ilocos farmers

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—Except for the temporary suspension of on-going road widening projects due to typhoon “Dodong” that hit Northern Luzon, Ilocos Norte residents are grateful for the rain brought by ‘Dodong’ as it came just in time when farm lands are drying up.

“We are thankful for the rain. The trees, the grass and our crops were revived,” said Rogelio Ceredon, president of the Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Dingras town.

Amidst early warnings putting Ilocos Norte up to Typhoon Warning Signal No. 2, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Resiliency Council has no recorded damages so far, bringing light to moderate rains in this northern part of Luzon.

As early as May 9, the PDRRMRC has activated the Operations Center and provincial resiliency clusters as well as preparation of relief goods and equipment for rescue and relief operations.

With light to moderate rains and some thunder early May 11, Ilocos Norte’s lifelines such as power, communication, transportation, telephone and water services are under normal condition

In a two-page report of the PDRRMRC submitted by Pedro S. Agcaoili Jr. chief, administrative unit to Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos on Monday, there had been no recorded casualty and no emergency incidents reported yet.

As public storm signal in Ilocos Norte has been lowered to signal no. 1, the PDRRMRC remains on alert level of a possible storm surge warning while advising coastal residents to take precautionary measure.

Earlier this week, the PDRRMRC has conducted resiliency drills in the different parts of the province to ensure quick and proper response in time of natural calamities 

Fire destroys Laoag City warehouse, Shamrock classrooms

 By Dominic B. dela Cruz & Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporters

LAOAG CITY—Under the scorching heat of the sun, firefighters from Laoag City and nearby towns help contain a razing fire traced inside a warehouse along the Gen. Segundo Ave., this city.

Fortunately, nobody was reported hurt.

Witnesses said the fire broke out Wednesday morning [May 6] at about 9:15 am in a warehouse of Motion Hardware.

Firefighters immediately issued a third alarm as it took firefighters more than two hours to beat the raging fire as the warehouse contains highly combustible materials including paints and acetylene.

Estimated costs of damages based on the assessment of the owner reached P500,000. The origin of the fire was traced from a welding activity.

F/Senior inspector Bonifacio Sacatrapos said the 1st to 3rd fire alarm was raised. This alarm prompts fire truck from nearby municipalities to respond.

The hardware warehouse is owned by Edward Chua and managed by Antonio Chua. It is being utilized as warehouse for variety of paints, varnish, PVC pipes of different sizes, c-purlins, reinforcing steel bars and other hardware materials.

Meanwhile, the Laoag Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said that for the first time, the well where they draw ground water is now running out of supply. Hence, they reiterated to Laoag residents to always observe fire safety particularly with rising temperatures this summer.

Record of the BFP shows that most of the affected during structural fires are residential areas.

Shamrock classrooms razed
ON May 8, a two-storey school building of Shamrock Elementary School was reported to be on fire by Brgy. 7B chairperson Glenn Agustin.

The fire which was reported at 11:51 pm, reached the fourth alarm as other fire trucks from other municipalities assisted the Laoag fire station in putting out the fire.

The fire was declared under control three hours later.

The school building is made mostly of concrete its flooring, stairs and wall, wood trusses, ceiling, room partition and door, GI sheet roofing, jalousie window with grills and used as Grade V classroom and store room of assorted informative books owned by the Dept. of Education.

Initial investigation conducted mentioned that building was being used as in-house training facility by different Grade IV public elementary school teachers of Ilocos Norte District I as part of their seven-day K to 12 program seminar which started on May 6 and was supposed to end on May 12. The seminar was conducted by the DepEd regional office.

No casualties or injuries were reported during the fire incident and the fire was controlled at 1:30 in the morning of May 9.

Sacatrapos said the cause and worth of damages is still under investigation and that they are presently collating evidences and interviewing witnesses, especially teachers who were billeted in the affected classrooms.

Meanwhile, Sacatrapos confirmed that Laoag has a total of 20 active fire hydrants but at this time, he admitted that some of them has low pressure maybe because of the summer season.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Candon City and City of Honolulu now sister cities

Honolulu-Candon ties. (From left) Honolulu Council Chairman Ernie Martin, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Candon City Mayor Ericson Singson, and Candon City Council Chairwoman Rhodana Cortez Abrero sign the agreement.

In witness of this significant and historical event in the life and history of both cities, the signing of the Sister City Agreement was held at the Mission Memorial Auditorium in Honolulu, Hawaii, on May 7 at 2:30 in the afternoon.

The program was emceed by Executive Director Nicole A. Velasco of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

The signing ceremony was well-attended—attendees included the Honolulu City Council, Caldwell Administration cabinet, Congressman Mark Takai and representatives of the Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation, members of the State Legislature, and officials from the Philippines Consulate  They were joined by members of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i, Filipino Business Women’s Association, Candonians of Hawai‘i, United Filipino Council of Hawai‘i, Ilocos Surian Association of Hawai‘i, Filipino Nurses Organization of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Filipino Women’s Club, Filipino Women’s Civic Club, Gumil Hawai‘i, and other Hawai‘i Filipino organizations.

As part of his welcome remarks Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell acknowledged and recognized some distinguished leaders in attendance like Councilmen   Ron Menor, son of the late Ben Menor, first Filipino Senator and first Filipino Justice to the Hawaii Supreme, followed by Mario Ramil, Simeon Acoba. Brandon Elefante, youngest member of the Council, has a root from Santiago, Ilocos Sur. Joey Manahan, root from Tagudin

The writer with Danny Villaruz, Candon City Council Chairwoman Rhodana Cortez Abrero, and one guest.

Members of the Hawaii State Legislature: Romy Cachola, John Mizuno, State Senate Clarence Nishihara, US Congressman Mark Takai were also in attendance.

Some community organizations were also represented like Danny Villaruz Ilocos Surian, Davelyn Quijano Sinait National High School Alumni Association of Hawaii; Maria Cristina White Santiaguenians Association of Hawaii; Arnold Villafuerte Knights of Rizal, Atty. Franz Donnie Juan FilComCenter, Paul Alimbuyao Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Maria Etrata United Filipino Council of Hawaii and many others,

Mayor Caldwell’s speech traced the historical journey and arrival of the first 15 Ilokano sakada from Candon.  It went like this:

“A journey that began when the first 15 sakada boarded the S.S. Doric and left Candon for Hawai‘i back in 1906 came full circle today,” said Mayor Caldwell.  “With the formal recognition of the deep ties between Honolulu and Candon City, our two cities now begin a new chapter in a partnership that dates back over a century.”

Honolulu and Candon City have a significant history.  The first sakada (Filipino plantation laborers) came from Candon and arrived in Hawai‘i on December 20, 1906 to work in the sugarcane plantations, beginning the first wave of Filipino immigration to the islands.

During his trade mission to the Philippines with the Hawai‘i Filipino Chamber of Commerce in February, 2014, Mayor Caldwell visited Candon City where he discussed the Sister City Agreement with Mayor Singson.  That May 7, 2015 signing made Candon City Honolulu 32nd established sister-city.   

In addition to Mayor Singson, Candon City Councilmembers, including Chair Rhodana C. Abrero, came to Honolulu for the historic event.

Mayor Caldwell also recognized other FIRST FILIPINO LEADERS in government as Atty. Peter Aduja [Vigan], as first Filipino legislator; Ben Menor [San Nicolas, IN] as first Filipino Senator and First Justice of the Supreme Court; Benjamin Cayetano [his father from Urdaneta] as first Filipino Hawaii Governor.

Below is the complete version of the agreement as signed by Kirk Caldwell, Ericson Singson, Ernie Martin, and Rhodana Abrero:


The City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii, United States of America and the City of Candon, Province of Ilocos Sur, Republic of the Philippines, hereby agree to establish a Sister-City Relationship in an effort to strengthen the mutual understanding of between our cities.

The two cities share similar topography, cultural ancestry, and commitment to excellence and advancement. They both are blessed with abundant, social, cultural and economic ties. The goal of establishing this Sister-City Relationship is to deepen the mutual regard, respect, and understanding between our two cities, and to pass this relationship on to future generations especially with Honolulu citizens who still identify themselves as Candonians.

In the spirit of bilateral collaboration and cooperation, the two cities agree to develop and strengthen sisterly lies between their people by promoting the social, cultural, agricultural, and economic development on a broad range of programs like tourism, education, science and technology, and inter-island communications.

In the spirit of friendship, the leaders and citizens of our cities agree to maintain regular contact to achieve mutually beneficial actions.

Signed on May 7, 2015 in the City and County of Honolulu.”

That day, we had the opportunity to meet a youngest Council member Brandon Elefante, in person who, according to him, has a root from Santiago, Ilocos Sur. He has a promising future in politics in Hawaii. 

Mayor Singson remarks is an expression of his sincere appreciation and gratitude to all persons involved in the preparation of the agreement and also their travel and itineraries.

The two council chairs also greeted the audience.

After the program, there was a sumptuous dinner with Filipino lechon and other delicacies that everybody enjoyed.

Imee lauds San Nicolas town's earthquake drill

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff reporter

San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte—Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos was impressed by the recently conducted earthquake drill in this municipality held May 8, 2015.

The earthquake drill was initiated by the governor in all the 21 municipalities and two cities in the province in case of earthquakes and other calamities.

In this municipality, Barangays 10, 11, 12 and 2, including a big supermarket participated in the drill. A series of practice drill was held prior to the official drill on May 8.

Ms. Marcos thanked the participation of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the police, Laoag City’s search and rescue team, Philippine Red Cross (PRC), residents of the 4 barangays and the business establishment, and the local government unit headed by San Nicolas Mayor Melanie Grace Valdez for a good preparation and an overall job well done.

Ms. Marcos said the award winning San Nicolas is the best of all the municipalities they evaluated for earthquake drills.

Tunay nga na dahil sa the best na earthquake drill, sana hindi kakailanganin at puspusan din ang dasal baka maawa sa kaka-dry run at kaka-drill natin, wala ng lindol sa San Nicolas,” Ms. Marcos said.

The earthquake drill was conducted simulating a real earthquake where the four barangays searched for victims that needed medical attention with the help of paramedic teams. Victims were immediately moved to an evacuation center while those in need of medical attention were sent to the nearest hospitals.

Members of the provincial police, BFP and the provincial government headed by the governor evaluated the drill.    

Ms. Valdez thanked the governor for initiating the earthquake drill which was very timely as the recent events in Nepal have shown.

Likewise, Ms. Valdez also thanked everyone who participated and joined the drill for without them the drill would not have been successful.

That the earthquake drill serves as a guide on what to do in cases of emergency like this, the mayor added.  

Members of the municipal risk reduction and management council also presented to the governor the projected number of vehicular traffic accident with fire incidents, one collapsed building at the Laoag Central Elementary School, one fire incident at a supermarket and four barangays severely affected with 25 injured, 215 evacuees, five houses partially destroyed and two totally damaged houses.

The municipal government also prepared relief goods ready for distribution for the victims and evacuees.

Daniw Idiay Tapao

Daniw Idiay Tapao
Kayarigak ti Maysa a Mula a Nagallatiw iti Sabali a Similia

[Kabayatan iti Kaaddak iti Nakayanakak a Brgy Tapao, Sinait, IS]

Amado I. Yoro

Arigko iti mula a nayallatiw iti similia
Ti panagdakkel; ti pannakaitukit manen
Barukong daga a nagpuonan ti amin.

Ditoyak a nayanak, a nagubing iti kinaagtutubok
Subliak kadi manen nga iladawan dagiti garaw
Ti kinasiak iti nasurok uppat a dekada a naipusingak?

Birokek kadi pay laeng ti daan a salamagi wenno duog a
Mangga a nagbitinan ti kadkaduak iti diak ammo no karatay
Wenno damili tapno baliwak ti maipasngay manen?

Duogen ti singin nga algarroba ti pagilasinak duog a dadapilan
Dagiti nasapa a parbangon a panagdakiwas ni sawak
Iti nakedkedngan a dalan ti panagbaniaga sidiran ti anawang.

Panaglupos kunak man ta awanen ti daan a pinan-aw  a kalapaw
Ngem dagiti irik a nayaplag iti daga kasda balitok iti kainaran
Iti sidiran daydi bunton ken pinullo a burnay-basi a lemma ti napalabas

Maysaak a mula iti umuna nga aldaw sulnitanna ti laglagip
Iti pannakayallatiw iti maikadua nga aldaw dagiti ibabangon
Iti maikatlo nga aldaw mapasubli ti baro nga init iti baro a bigat.

Agtigtig-ab idi dagiti sarusar iti kinamalig a binettek a dawa
Sabali itan ta naibartayen dagiti bimmalitok nga irik
A  bilagen ti darang ti init sadanto manen maisako iti supot ti biag.

Ti kaaddak ita a simmubli, ammok, ti immuna a kunnot ti biag
Ti mula surotenna ti dam-eg ti daga a nagramutan
Ti panagsubli maysa a panangtaliaw ti kalman: rumukbos pay ti ayat
Addaak manen Sta Romana: adtoyak a nagsubli iti saklotmo.

[Naidaniw kabayatan ti miting dagiti dadaulo ti barangay ken Assn of Barangay Captains nga idauluan ni ABC president Blaine Guzman ken Ex-Brgy Captain Federico Yadao ken agdama a Tapao Brgy Captain Sabino Rosete  iti sango ti taengmi idi rabii ti Nob 14, 2012]

Best defense—in boxing and in law

“Mayweather must love me very much, he kept hugging me,” joked Manny Pacquiao after their “Fight of the Century”.

There is an ancient adage that “the best defense is a good offense” which means that "if you attack your opponents, they will be so busy fighting off your attack that they will not be able to attack you.” See The Free Dictionary by Farlex.

Mayweather’s defense was dance a boxing “cha cha cha” (one step forward, two steps backward) to evade Pacquiao’s punches and when Pacquiao managed to get close to Mayweather, he would hug Pacquiao, thereby preventing Pacquiao from hitting him. It was a winning strategy, although unimpressive. A disgusted spectator twitted that this was not a boxing bout but “Dancing with the Stars”.

Mayweather’s tactic differs from Muhammad Ali’s winning rope-a-dope strategy against George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle. Ali would back against the ropes and protect his head while Foreman kept punching at Ali’s body until Foreman got tired, and then Ali would counter attack. Pacquiao skillfully used the rope-a-dope strategy against Miguel Cotto in their 2009 WBO welterweight championship fight resulting in a knockout. Rope-a-dope involves body contact, but boxing cha cha cha’s purpose is to avoid body contact.

In immigration law, however, a lawyer who dances an immigration cha cha cha or does a rope-a-dope will lose and the client will be deported. The best defense is to deny all charges so that the government is kept busy proving them.

An alien applied for adjustment of status. It was denied. The alien divorced her husband and married another. The new husband filed an immigration visa petition for the alien and the alien filed an application for adjustment of status. It was approved. Later USCIS discovered a birth certificate of the alien containing a birth date different from what she stated in her first application for adjustment of status. The alien was placed in removal proceedings for fraud.

Her lawyer admitted the allegations of the notice to appear and conceded removability. Later the lawyer, without any explanation, denied the charges. At the next hearing, the judge asked why the lawyer was contesting the charges. The lawyer responded that she was not contesting the charges but was conceding them.

The Judge was confounded and irritated. The lawyer was dancing an immigration cha cha cha. The lawyer abruptly changed strategies without any reason or explanation. This is ineffective assistance of counsel. The judge ordered the alien removed.

The alien hired a second lawyer to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The second lawyer charged the first lawyer as ineffective for conceding the charges. The Board dismissed the appeal, saying that the first lawyer’s admission of removability was binding on the alien, and that the charge of ineffective assistance of counsel could not be sustained because the second lawyer did not comply with the Lozada requirements. Under Lozada, the lawyer accusing another of ineffectiveness must notify the first lawyer of the charge and get the lawyer’s explanation and must also file a complaint against the first lawyer with the Bar association and/or the state Supreme Court.

The alien hired this writer as her third lawyer to appeal to the Court of Appeals. We contended that the first two lawyers were ineffective. We complied with the Lozada requirements. We contended that the inexplicable conduct of the first attorney in doing an immigration cha cha cha was so deficient and so inadequate resulting in prejudice to the alien because it may have affected the outcome of the proceeding, thereby denying the alien due process. If the first lawyer had not conceded removability, the alien would have had a plausible relief—termination of the proceedings for failure of the DHS to establish materiality and willfulness of the misrepresentation. Misstating the date of birth in an immigration application was not material because even if the alien stated her true date of birth rather than an incorrect date she would still be entitled to adjustment of status since she was being petitioned by her husband and she was of legal age at the time of their marriage. We contended that the second lawyer was ineffective for not complying with Lozada in charging the first lawyer with ineffectiveness. The appeal is pending.

(Atty. Tipon has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He specializes in immigration law and criminal defense. Office: 900 Fort Street, Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96813. Tel. (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: Websites: He is from Laoag City and Magsingal, Ilocos Sur. He served as an Immigration Officer. He is co-author of “Immigration Law Service, 1st ed.,” an 8-volume practice guide for immigration officers and lawyers. This article is a general overview of the subject matter discussed and is not intended as legal advice. No warranty is made by the writer or publisher as to its completeness or correctness at the time of publication. No attorney-client relationship is established between the writer and readers relying upon and/or acting pursuant to the contents of this article.)

Countries pledge to wipe out sheep and goat plague globally

Worldwide campaign aims for complete eradication of Peste de Petits Ruminants by 2030

Abidjan, Cote d'IvoireHigh-level authorities from 15 countries pledged on Thursday to collaborate on a global plan to wipe out forever the devastating animal disease known as “Peste des petits ruminants” by 2030, a lethal plague for goats and sheep and the scourge of rural households in vast swathes of the developing world.

Ministerial delegations, along with more than 300 participants from across the continents, representatives of regional bodies and international organizations, agreed to a plan to control and eradicate PPR drawn up by FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and presented at a meeting organized by the two institutions with the Government of Cote d'Ivoire.

The campaign will make PPR only the second animal disease ever to be eradicated, after rinderpest in 2011. PPR is estimated to cause over $2 billion in losses each year, mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and its elimination will improve food and nutritional security for billions of consumers and especially the more than 300 million vulnerable households who keep sheep and goats in the affected regions.

"We have a plan, the tools, the science, and the partners," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. "Eradication of PPR is not only within reach, but also in our hands. With OIE, we have agreed to establish a joint secretariat for the implementation to be hosted by FAO." 

"We can mobilize now public and private components of national veterinary services worldwide to influence our strategy," stated OIE Director General, Dr. Bernard Vallat. "Improving animal health is our duty and our passion."

Eradication is a ‘bolder next step’
Eradication is a step beyond efforts to control and reduce incidences of the disease. It is a "bolder next step" in line with the Strategic Development Goals that the international community is drafting in 2015, which include ending rather than reducing hunger, Graziano da Silva said.

The plan developed by FAO and OIE is estimated to cost from US$4 to US$7 billion over a 15-year period. Annual savings generated by eradication are expected to quickly pay back the investment required. FAO and OIE believe that this could be done in less time if they have the strong support from governments, partners and regional organizations.

Moreover, the campaign will produce very significant collateral benefits, both by boosting the goods and services of the national veterinary systems that can control other livestock diseases such as brucellosis or foot-and-mouth disease, and because eradication of the PPR threat will unleash greater investment in the sector, improve nutrition, and secure people's livelihoods.

Demand for meat and milk from small ruminants in Africa is expected to rise by 137 percent from 2000 to 2030, and even more in Asia, according to FAO, and diseases cripple the efficiencies in reaching these needs.

The timetable for eradication
PPR can be eradicated in half the time it took to eradicate rinderpest if the global strategy devised by FAO and OIE is adequately resourced and well-coordinated at all levels, with strong political commitment from national authorities and effective engagement with Veterinary Services and rural communities.

The campaign calls on nations to adopt its four-stage approach, beginning with an assessment period expected to last between one and three years. The second stage, lasting two to five years, focuses on control and risk management, while the third is geared to final eradication and will take between two to five years. The final stage requires countries to document that there have been no cases of PPR for at least 24 months.

The first, diagnostic stage requires identifying the numbers and where the flocks are, where they are most at risk, and also endowing veterinary services with legislative approval and enabling environment to intervene.

While voluntary vaccination is always encouraged, the strategy will require systematic vaccination in the second stage, focusing initially on areas where PPR incidence is greatest. In the third phase, vaccination is obligatory and considered a public rather than a private good.

The eradication campaign calls for immunizing up to 80 percent of all animals, an outcome that will require vaccination of almost all small ruminants that are more than three months old.

An inexpensive, safe and reliable vaccine complying with OIE standards on quality exists for PPR, and national and regional authorities encourage vaccine makers to achieve greater capacity while researchers seek ways to make thermostable versions of the vaccine able to withstand higher ambient temperatures.

About PPR
PPR is caused by a virus that can kill as many as 90 percent of the animals it infects within days, and after a rapid expansion over the past 15 years is now present in around 70 countries.

The disease is related to rinderpest, the cattle plague that FAO and OIE declared eradicated in 2011, thereby ending a primary cause of famine and unrest in recent centuries.

The 2.1 billion small ruminants in the world - 80 percent of which live in affected regions - are critical assets for poor rural households in developing countries, providing quality protein, milk, nutrition, fertilizer, wool and fiber as well as income opportunities and financial flexibility. (FAO)


A herdsman in Central African Republic prepares to vaccinate his flock. (FAO)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PH rice institute leads on patents and applications

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) cited the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for filing the most number of patents and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications. 

The award, called the “Anak ni Juan,” is given to PhilRice Intellectual Property Office for submitting six patents and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications under the office’s Patent Protection Incentive Package (PPIP), also coined as “Juan’s Thousand Inventions.”  More than 80 Innovation and Technology Support Office (ITSO) host institutions including research institutions and state universities and colleges participated in filling patent applications under the PPIP in 2014.

Among entries recognized by IPOPHIL eligible for PCT application was the action research titled Cogeneration of Biochar and Heat from Rice Hull: Its Application in the Poultry Industry. The research, through the lead of Dr. Ricardo F. Orge and John Eric O. Abon, developed the continuous rice hull (CtRH) carbonizer, a smokeless biomass machine that utilizes rice hull to generate heat and produce carbonized rice hull.

As an environment-friendly farming technology,  Orge said that the machine utilizes the carbonizer-generated heat for brooding chicks in replacement with the conventional liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) heat while the biochar (carbonized rice hull) it generates is used for poultry-based organic fertilizer.

Results of the performance test trials showed that the CtRH carbonizer, which is equipped with a heat-recovery attachment, can substitute the conventional LPG heater to provide the needed heat for brooding chicks; saving five to six tanks of LPG for every heater replaced. With the biochar, additional income can also be derived from the produced organic fertilizer mixed with chicken manure.

Other action researches entitled for PCT applications include: Barringtoniaasiatica as an organic liquid molluscicide and use of the same; Hydrous-bioethanol-fuel feeding device for spark-ignition engine; and A cooking device with temperature control utilizing waste heat from biomass carbonization or from other external heat source.

A Phytoremediation method using seagrass to remove lead in contaminated sediments (PhilRice-drafted in behalf of CLSU) and A Phytoremediation Method using mangroves to remove lead and copper in contaminated sediments (also PhilRice-drafted in behalf of CLSU) were also recognized by IPOPHIL.

Jerry Serapion, PhilRice’s Intellectual Property Management-ITSO manager said that the award confirms the creativity and innovativeness of the scientists and researchers in protecting their intellectual creations.

He added that for inventions to be considered new and original, references were around the world were conducted before their filing dates as inventions.

ITSO is a program established by the IPOPHL in 2010 aimed to be a patent library that will provide patent and Intellectual Property (IP) related services to the community clientele within the service geography of the ITSO members. (PhilRice News)

Monday, May 25, 2015

OWWA Region I helps families of late OFWs build livelihood

By Justin Paul D. Marbella

San Fernando, La Union—The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Regional Welfare Office I (OWWA RWOI) has extended help to families of late Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) by providing them assistance in the form of livelihood.

Through the Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP), the OWWA RWO I has released a total of P645,000 worth of livelihood assistance to 43 beneficiaries all over Region I for the period of January-April 2015.  29 beneficiaries come from Pangasinan, six from La Union, five from Ilocos Sur, and three from Ilocos Norte.

The ELAP is an OWWA program for survivors of deceased OFWs. It has two components: the Livelihood Component and Education Component. Under the Livelihood Component, qualified dependents receive livelihood assistance amounting to P15,000.

Most of the new ELAP beneficiaries in Region I have existing livelihoods, such as sari-sari store, livestock raising, and transportation services, among others. Thus, they received the financial assistance from OWWA in the form of check. Using this amount, they were able to sustain and improve their business ventures.

Other beneficiaries, meanwhile, received the financial assistance in the form of goods as startup for their livelihood. These goods include grocery items, sacks of rice, and other resources which they could use to launch their business.

Melinda N. Carbon of Agno, Pangasinan prepares to bring home the nine cavans of rice which she will use to start a rice trading business. She received the goods worth P15,000 from OWWA RWOI on April 22, 2015, through the Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP).

One of them is Eden C. Suyat of Acop, Rosales, Pangasinan. She gladly received grocery items from OWWA RWO I officers who personally visited her at her residence on April 17, 2015. She expressed excitement at putting up her sari-sari store as this will help not only her family, but also her community. Eden’s son, John Lloyd, also enjoys OWWA programs through the Education Component of ELAP. An incoming Grade Six pupil, John Lloyd receives P5,000 per school year to help him in his schooling.

Eden Suyat and son, John Lloyd, are excited to put up their sari-sari store in their village in Acop, Rosales, Pangasinan. They received the grocery items worth P15,000 from OWWA RWOI on April 17, 2015, as part of their benefits through the Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP).
Another beneficiary is Melinda N. Carbon of Agno, Pangasinan, who will engage in rice trading. The OWWA RWO I turned over nine cavans of rice to Carbon on April 22, 2015.

Applications for 2015 YSEALI fellowship now open

Manila—Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic and Professional Fellowships. Academic Fellowships are intensive, short term programs in the United States that provide young leaders, ages 18-25, with a deeper understanding of the United States, while enhancing their leadership skills. YSEALI Professional Fellowships are for community leaders, ages 25-35, working in the fields of civic engagement, non-government organization management, economic empowerment, governance, legislative process or environmental and natural resources management. Professional Fellows will spend one month at a U.S.-based non-profit or government office to enhance their practical expertise, leadership skills, and professional contacts. 

The deadline to apply for the 2015 YSEALI Academic and Professional Fellowships is June 1, 2015, and both programs are scheduled to take place in the fall. The U.S. government will cover all fees related to the program, including transportation to and accommodation in the United States.

The 2015 YSEALI Seeds for the Future Grant Competition is accepting project proposals from YSEALI members to improve their communities, countries, or the region.  Winners can receive funding of up to US$20,000. Deadline for submission of project proposals is June 6, 2015.

In order to submit an application for these programs, you must be a YSEALI member. Registration is free at:

Launched in 2013, YSEALI is U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. Programs and engagements include U.S. educational and cultural exchanges, project-funding, competitions, networking, and international/regional activities that revolve around the themes of environment, education, civic engagement, and economic development.

Apply for a YSEALI Academic Fellowship:

Apply for a YSEALI Professional Fellowship:;

For information on the Seeds for the Future Grant Competition: