Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Piddig exec attends yearend agribusiness confab

Manila—The Center for Food and Agri Business (CFA) of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) held its ‘Year-end Food and Agribusiness’ conference with the theme “Sustainable Philippine Food and Agribusiness: How to shape the future?” on December 5, 2017 at Ortigas Center in Pasig City.

Among the speakers for the conference were Dr. Rolando Dy, executive director, Center for Food and Agri Business (CFA) who spoke about the agriculture scenarios in 2017-2018; Rosemarie Gumera, Sugar Regulatory Administration planning manager, spoke about the sugar industry; Philip Moran, Amici Foodservice Ventures, Inc chief operating officer and general manager spoke about the food service industry; Phillip Ong, Santeh Feeds Corporation president discussed the aquaculture industry; and Edwin Mapanao, Univet chief marketing officer, talked the animal health and nutrition industry.

Former Piddig mayor now consultant Engr. Eduardo “Eddie” Guillen, who expounded on his municipality’s best practices entitled: “Local Government as Enablers in Agribusiness.”

Government and private organizations earlier recognized the Piddig government for fulfilment of the convergence project of the different environmental agencies in protecting the ecosystem and upbringing consolidated farming in the province.

Meanwhile, the group is planning a bench-marking activity on sustainable agribusiness in Piddig in coordination with Piddig mayor Regina Salazar-Guillen. (Bernard Ver)

Laoag City council oks P778M 2018 budget

By Dominic Dela Cruz

Laoag City—Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas signed the approved annual budget for the city government of Laoag.

The 2018 budget totals of PHP778,726,526.44, an increase of PHP31.5 million compared to this year’s budget. This year’s budget is PHP747,185,530.33.

Members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod unanimously approved the annual budget during a regular session on November 27, 2017.

The Ilocos Times learned that the council referred the budget to the body as a committee of the whole. It took them one month to study and deliberate on the budget. Prior to this, the city’s local finance committee also deliberated and held consultations for the budget.

Ms. Fariñas led the consultations with all department heads verifying and defending their respective budgets.

The lady mayor said the budget was prepared after a “thorough deliberation with all the concerned offices to make it an effective tool for allocating equitably the limited resources of government to the different sectors”.

The city’s projected internal revenue allotment (IRA) share of PHP447,637,204.00 for 2018. The committee considered this in the budgetary allocations. The city’s IRA share for this year is PHP416,848,199.00. the projected IRA for next year has an increase of at least PHP31 million.

The Laoag City General Hospital (LCGH) has the biggest budget allocation with PHP131,034,521.90; followed by the City Engineering Office and the City Mayor’s Office with PHP79,961,327.31 and PHP71,969,875.36, respectively.

While the budgets of the city cemetery, Office of the City Administrator and the legal office has the least budget allocations with PHP192,030.00; PHP1,264,274.32 and PHP1,405,530 respectively.

Under the budget, the city government also allocated cash for “Special Purpose Appropriations”, which include the City Development Plan with PHP121.5 million, or an increase of PHP19 million from this year’s PHP102 million; calamity fund with PHP29,735,860.20; and aid to barangays with PHP18,370.000.00.

The city government also allocated subsidies to the different national agencies: the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, Commission on Audit, Regional and Metropolitan Trial Courts, Office of the City Prosecutor, Public Attorney’s Office, Dept. of Interior and Local Government, and National Bureau of Investigation.

The city also allocated PHP3,380,190.00 for the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES).

The 2018 budget also contains aids to traffic enforcement, barangay tanods, tricycle/calesa association, Peoples Law Enforcement Board, City Anti-Drug Abuse Council, Sangguniang Kabataan, and the HIV/AIDS council.

The Laoag officials also allocated PHP4 million for the Best Barangay Governance Performance Management System (BGPMS) Implementer-Barangay Level.

Ilocos Norte gov’t, PRC conduct year-end mobile outreach services

PRC representatives serving initial registrants. (Alaric A. Yanos)
By Gerelita Joy Mari N. Dela Cruz
Laoag City—The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) thru the Public Employment Service Office (PESO), in partnership with the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), delivered professional licensing and application services to almost 2000 professionals and aspiring professionals on this year’s last mobile outreach service for 2017.

Agriculturists, engineers, estate brokers, midwives, nurses, and teachers, availed PRC’s assistance. Services include professional ID Card (PIC), renewal and license registration, issuance of good standing certification, release of available PIC and certificate of registration, and application for various examinations such as the Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (BLEPT).

PESO manager Ann Marie Lizette Bitancor, assured continuous Mobile PRC Programs for the upcoming year saying, “Tuloy-tuloy po itong proyekto ng ating gobernador, Gov. Imee Marcos sa kanyang “Manang Imee = Trabaho,” mas mapapadali yung paghahanap ng trabaho at mas mapapabilis ang pagiging professional ng mga Ilocano.”

“Manang Imee = Trabaho” is under Ilocos Norte governor ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos’ employment campaign launched in 2011. The program seeks to address the problem of low employment and the challenge in addressing the migration of professionals abroad.

Nagbukas ang call centers at business process outsourcing (BPO) dito sa probinsya as well as the tourism industry that continues to drive employment. With this, we have available jobs awaiting young professionals, making migration merely an option and not their last resort in supporting their children and all their families,” Ms. Marcos said, eyeing potential for more local employment.

One of the professionals who benefited was Maricel Guerrero, a professional teacher from Barangay 16 Salsalamagi, Vintar. She expressed the convenience brought by the mobile outreach, emphasizing “Imbes nga inkami paylaeng aggasto a mapan idiay Baguio, usarenmi latta didiayen a pagbayad iti bayadanmi iti PRC. Naksayan ti oras ken bannog a masapolmi. Imbes a dua nga aldaw no kua’t panawanmi nga obrami, gapu kadaytoy a mobile outreach, malpasmi iti transaksyonmi iti maysa nga aldaw laengen.”

Despite schedule constraints, PESO and PRC made sure to deliver regular services before the oath-taking of the recent BLEPT Passers scheduled on December 17 in Baguio City. PRC regularly delivers services every first Saturday of each month all year round.

The number of professionals benefited in this year-long PRC mobile outreach tripled compared to last year’s total as PESO listed more than 15,000 professionals in their records.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Ilocos Sur mayor pushes for federalism

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Narvacan, Ilocos Sur—Over 1,500 participants attended a federalism summit held in an open court of this town’s municipal hall.

Highlighting the advantages of a federal form of government which gives more power to the provinces outside Metro Manila through the so-called “bottoms-up decision making and no-nonsense leadership”, the local government unit of Narvacan led by their mayor Zuriel Zaragoza hosted the summit in support of President Duterte’s advocacy to implement real change.

Mr. Zaragoza said decentralization and devolution of powers and authority from the national government to the local government units is better to enable local government units to become self-reliant, thus making them an effective partner in the attainment of national goals and in nation building.

He reiterated this we can only achieve this through timely transition from the present form of government to a federal one.

Citing the top four agenda of the Duterte administration such as anti-criminality and corruption, rule of law, peace and order, and poverty alleviation, Usec. Joel Egco, executive director of the Presidential Communications Operations Office urged Ilocos residents to support the president for “he is our last card, our last hope” to achieve change.

As a former activist himself, Mr. Egco said it is only under the Duterte administration that he felt the sincerity of a leader to implement change.

Expressing support to a revolutionary government towards federalism, Elmer Bumanglag, 58, of Brgy. Napo in Badoc, Ilocos Norte said he believes it will do more good for the common people if we give the country a chance for a new form of government.

“I like it because it will benefit my future generation. With federalism, all regional states will have their own set of governance and the 80% of the taxation will remain at the local level and the 20% will go to the national level. If this will push through, corruption will be eliminated,” said Mr. Bumanglag as he joined other members of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur during the federalism summit.

For a young farmer-engineer John Lei Ganiron of Batac City, he said federalism could probably be the Filipino’s “last hope to solve corruption and the many ills of the government today”.

“We need one supreme power from a leader who knows how to lead the country in the right way. We trust our leader [Duterte] and we are confident he can make it for the common good,” Mr. Ganiron said.

The first of a kind federalism summit in the second district of Ilocos Sur is also meant to kick off the week-long celebration of the bagnet festival of Narvacan in time for the town’s 141st foundation anniversary.

Other undersecretaries of the national government also joined the summit which include Mr. Egco, Emily Padilla for Legislative Liaison and Special Concerns of the Department of Interior and Local Government and Virginia Orogo for special concerns of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office.

Laoag, Batac are SGLG recipients

By Dominic Dela Cruz
Laoag City—The cities of Laoag and Batac in the province of Ilocos Norte both regained their Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) awards for CY 2017.

The SGLG recognition came from the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) program that began in 2010. The national government introduced this to provide greater challenge to all local governments to continue good governance practices while providing better services.

Due to a successful run of the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) now awards the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) or Pagkilala sa Katapatan at Kahusayan ng Pamahalaang Lokal. The DILG launched this in 2014.

The SGLG symbolizes integrity and good performance through continuing governance reform and sustained local development. It is a progressive assessment system adopted by the DILG to give distinction to remarkable local government performance across several areas.

The SGLG further aligns its parameters to help meet expectations and contribute in realizing target outcomes relative to local governance most notably accounted for is the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) to help bring about the current Administration’s vision of inclusive growth, high trust society and a globally competitive knowledge economy following the principles of Malasakit, Pagbabapo at Patuloy na Pag-unlad.

Laoag City interior and local government director Roger Daquioag said that for 2017, the SGLG raised its over-all assessment criteria wherein they added peace and order in the core areas aside from financial administration, disaster preparedness and social protection.

He added that they also introduced tourism, culture and arts to measure the LGUs efforts along these concerns.

Relative to the PDP, they also aligned the areas of financial administration, social protection, disaster preparedness and cultural preservation were with the principle of “Malasakit” or enhancing the social fabric; the areas of business friendliness and tourism support economic growth consistent with the principle of “Pagbabago” or reducing inequality; While the peace and order and environmental management are bedrock strategies for “Patuloy na Pag-unlad” or increasing growth potential.

Mr. Daquioag announced that the Laoag government passed all the criteria set forth by the DILG with the help of the different department offices heads, the city council headed by vice mayor and presiding officer Michael V. Fariñas and mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas.

Mrs. Fariñas expressed her happiness considering that Laoag git the award for the fourth time as SGLG recipient. Two for the SGH and two for the SGLG.

In Region I, other SGLG recipients for the city category are the cities of Alaminos, Batac, Candon, Dagupan, Laoag, San Carlos, Urdaneta and Vigan.

For Ilocos Norte, the municipalities of Bacarra, Bangui, Banna Marcos, Nueva Era, Paoay and Vintar are also SGLG recipients.

Relative to this, the city government of Batac is now also on its 3rd year as a Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) recipient. One for the SGH and 2 SGLG.

Batac mayor Albert D. Chua thanked all the people behind this award which simply means that the city of Batac has complied all the requirements need to become SGLG recipient.

Federalism and the Philippines

It may turn out good; it may also become a disaster. The only thing certain for now is it would still take time for a federal Philippines to emerge.

As in the many fora the Department of Interior and Local Government conducted, the questions far outnumber the answers. And the questions continue multiplying.

Yet the most basic question really is: are we ready for federalism? Are we, as a people and as an electorate politically mature enough for this?

Federalism may turn out to be good for the Philippines. It will render “Imperial Manila” useless, and will task each state—or regional—government to chart their own course. Public services may also become better, faster and more efficient. As it is, it will also bring governance truly closer to the people.

But are we really ready for it? Is the Filipino electorate mature enough for it? And are our politicians prepared to become real public servants instead of what most of them are today?

For if we are not, we will simply be handing our country’s political dynasties their own kingdoms and fiefdoms with nothing in between. And from whatever perspective, federalism then becomes the catalyst that will truly bury all the aspirations of the Filipino people for a better tomorrow.

And as much as some people are trying to put this issue in front and center today, our very own Philippine president is facing the other way; threatening to install a revolutionary government—apparently to install federalism, or so his closest advisers say.

It is quite more than a stretch to promise federalism and later taunt the country with a revolutionary government. Of course, the president’s reasons are always esoteric—but not in an intelligent way, rather in a way only he and his loyal base understand what he really means; and as such will only later serve them and no one else. And if his taunts are simply in response to criticisms, then our country may soon drown in pettiness. And more madness, even.

As in everything any sane, decent and thinking person will try do, we must first make sure the type of federalism we need; then ascertain that this type will solve all the problems that face our country today—or at least point it towards that direction; and then guarantee that the governments that will emerge will listen better to the people and really try their best to make Filipino lives truly better. And that they will respect every Filipinos’ rights more than what they are doing now.

Otherwise, this will just be another exercise in futility.

Imee enters Superbrands hall of fame

Ilocos Norte governor Imee R. Marcos meets with Ilocos Norte Muslim leaders. (Alaric Yanos photo)

By Edison Justin Deus and Ma. Christian A. Ramos

Laoag City—For a third time in a row, Superbrands Marketing International, Inc. (SMI) bestowed the “Most Outstanding Governor” award on Ilocos Norte’s Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos for her vision of a livable sustainable, and resilient home province.

SMI held the awards program on November 28, 2017 in Makati City.

Talaga namang tuwang-tuwa ako, at hindi ko inaakalang magiging three-time awardee ako. So, first time, tuwang-tuwa ako. Second, big surprise. Ngayon, talagang nasindak ako. Hall of fame na raw ang pangalan, so I’m very thrilled,” Ms. Marcos said.

SMI is a global branding and marketing organization which recognizes politicians, professionals, companies, and executives who have significantly contributed to the society. Recipients of the said award include governors who enable inclusive growth among their constituents and demonstrate exemplary public service.

Other awardees for the Outstanding Governors category this year include Wilhelmino Alvarado of Bulacan, Faustino Dy of Isabela, Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Emmylou Mendoza of Cotabato, Robert Rodrigueza of Sorsogon, Sharee Tan of Samar, Czarina Umali of Camarines Sur, and Susan Yap of Tarlac.

On the eighth year of the award, SMI President and Chief Executive Officer Harry Tambuatco remarked: “We are a private firm that does not stand on political issues or positions. We are strictly straight on the nominations of specific people who we believe should be awarded and given importance.”

She fulfills her Paspas Dur-as (“fast progress”) tagline through the provincial vision "Pasingkedan ti Kinatan-ok ni Ilocano!" (Together, we can make Ilocos Norte great again!) which she launched upon taking office back in 2010. The program includes agricultural projects, establishment of infrastructures, employment services, and medical assistance, among others.

Ms. Marcos, known to have been a public servant since her youth through the Kabataang Barangay, continues to empower the province’s youth sector, through the Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office (INYDO: formerly Sirib Express) which eventually formed the Sirib Ilokano Kabataan Association (SIKA), a youth volunteer organization that assists the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) in delivering its services.

Also, Task Force Trabaho, an employment campaign initiated through her administration, generated over 50,000 jobs which led Ilocos Norte to achieve the lowest poverty incidence rate (15%) in Region One in 2016.

The governor is also aggressive in attracting investors to set up business ventures in Ilocos Norte, bringing more employment and livelihood opportunities to locals.

The “Paoay Kumakaway” tourism campaign, also an initiative of the governor, and the maiden arrival of Star Cruise’s Superstar Virgo in Currimao Port last March sustained the high rate of tourist arrival, setting 684.06% increase in day visitors from 2012 to 2016. Superstar Virgo will be docking in the province again this month.

Ilocos Norte has surpassed the national growth rate target set at 6.6 % this year and it aims to secure 11% growth rate in 2018 through investments in renewable energy, services, transport, and construction.

The initiatives of the governor led to sustainable and inclusive growth within the different sectors of the province which qualified for SMI’s criteria. She received the same award last 2015 and 2016.

Manifesting her commitment to public service, the governor, who is now on her third and final term, pushes to develop a more “makaay-ayo a pagnaedan, agnanayon a panagdur-as, ken naandor nga ili—Ilocos Norte, Nadayag a Pagnaedan!” (livable, sustainable, and resilient home province—Ilocos Norte, the Home we love), where Ilocanos are convinced that “Ilocos Norte is the very best place to live in, and that they have a future here at home.”

“Time and again, we have proven that the Ilocano is above all naandor [resilient]—not only its leadership, but more importantly, its people.”

Monday, January 22, 2018

Laoag City DepEd chief bags back-to-back leadership awards

By Jennifer T. Pambid
Compassionate leadership and dedication to public service. This brought Dr. Joel B. Lopez to the regional and national limelight one-and-a-half-year after he took over as officer-in-charge of the Office of the Schools Division Superintendent of the Department of Education Schools Division of Laoag City.

For his exceptional accomplishments in improving the quality of education, Dr. Lopez received two consecutive awards in September 2017.

On September 8, 2017, he was one of the regional finalists of the 2017 Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) Dangal ng Bayan Award at the Diego Silang Hall, Provincial Capitol, City of San Fernando, La Union.

Under the category, CSC recognizes outstanding public officials and employees for exemplifying extraordinary acts of public service and consistently demonstrating exemplary ethical behavior as stated under Republic Act No. 6713.

The nomination for Dr. Lopez narrated his achievements in the past three years particularly in improving management, empowering teachers and school heads as well as championing student development.

Among his accomplishments are the introduction of democratic and collaborative leadership, enhancing the efficiency of the division’s services, improving communication and information dissemination and launching of Learning Resource Center.

Three days after receiving his regional award, another award-giving group recognized him as honorable mention in the Ambrosio Antonio L. Cabangon Chua Gintong Parangal Para sa Edukasyon-Pamumuno.

Organized by the Fortune Life Insurance Inc. and the Mary Lindbert International, the nationwide search honors the exemplary deeds of educators who upholds the value of hard work, discipline and dedication to their profession.

Dr. Lopez received the award during a ceremony at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan, Department of Education Central Office, Pasig City on September 12, 2017.

“I am very honored for the recognitions and for being able to lead SDO Laoag City. We will continue improving the system and the overall quality of service we are providing to our clientele,” said Dr. Lopez in an interview.

For Dr. Lopez, leadership is not only about leading people to achieve a goal; it is about making impact on the lives of everyone he encounters.

Testimonies from his constituents affirm his transformational and inspirational kind of leadership. People around him describe him as having strong commitment, professionalism, responsibility, justness and humility.

Dr. Lopez’s quest for continuous improvement carries on as he leads the whole SDO Laoag City towards an ISO-certified organization which will provide all its stakeholders a world-class quality service.

More than receiving awards and recognitions for his achievements, Dr. Lopez believes that leaving a mark in the lives of people is the most important and fulfilling part of being a leader—one that is compassionate and dedicated to help others be the best person they can become.

Ilocos Norte board moves to settle boundary dispute between Vintar, Bangui

Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) appealed to the municipalities of Vintar and Bangui in the province’s first district to settle amicably a boundary dispute covering more than 1,000 hectares.

SP member Da Vinci Crisostomo said both municipalities, represented by Vintar mayor Larissa Foronda and Bangui mayor Fidel Cimatu, have a claim for the contested lots located under cadastral survey 734-D covering an area of 1,049.9621 square meters.

In a letter forwarded to both concerned municipalities, Gwendolyn Bambalan, assistant director for technical services of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources based in San Fernando City, La Union clarified that on December 9, 1995, there was a memorandum of agreement signed by the former local chief executives and Sangguniang Bayan members of each town resolving the jurisdictional areas of both localities.

Based on the documents, Ms. Bambalan said the 1995 MOA favored Bangui town but the Vintar officials alleged there were some “discrepancies” or misrepresentations that happened during the signing of the MOA as shown in an affidavit of then Vintar mayor Antonio Foronda.

As the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is responsible in the resolution of political boundary conflict as stated under Section 118 of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government code of 1991, Mr. Crisostomo, in his capacity as chairperson of the committee on laws hopes that both parties will just settle amicably instead of undergoing the tedious process of court proceedings to resolve the issue.

Following a series of two meetings held at the Provincial Session Hall, Mr. Crisostomo said another meeting has been set early January 2018 to finally decide on what is best way to settle the contested area.

To date, Vintar town has the largest land area in Ilocos Norte’s first district with a total of 61,434 hectares while Bangui has 10,247 hectares.

DILG holds federalism dialogue

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) conducted a federalism dialogue at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena on December 1, 2017.

Barangay, municipal and provincial officials including different government agencies; and representatives from the religious sector, academe, and private sector participated in the said dialogue.

According to Atty. Joseph Apolonio, DILG Regional Office 1 legal officer, in a federal system, about 70-80% of the collected funds becomes the share of the region; with the remaining 20-30% becomes the share of the national government.

He added that projects implementation will likewise become easier since there will no longer be necessary to wait for national government approval.

Mr. Apolonio, however, stressed that a federalism system will not erase graft and corruption. He added that administrative and criminal cases can and will still be a feature of a federal government.

Meanwhile, Laoag City local government officer Roger Daquioag said to become a federal government, we need to change the constitution.

He disclosed that the national government is soliciting the opinion of the Filipino people through a series of consultations nationwide. He emphasized that it will be the people who will decide whether we will have a shift to a federal system of government.

For his part, Ilocos Norte vice governor Eugenio Angelo M. Barba said he assumes that it will be a “long and painful” process to change the form of government. He also pointed out that soliciting the stand of the Filipino people is an “indispensable requirement” both in changing the constitution and the form of government (Frances Alegre)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Laoag City council Oks session livestreaming

By Dominic Dela Cruz
Laoag City—Moving along with today’s new technology, the Sangguniang Panlungsod here is set to livestream its sessions.

Laoag Councilor Roque C. Ablan, main author of the ordinance said this aims to “provide accurate information in real time to the public” on what is transpiring at the plenary during the council’s regular sessions

He also cited Section 28, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, which states: “The State shall adopt and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest, subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law”.

He then added that the move is also to recognize the fundamental role of “free and open exchange of information in a democracy meant to enhance transparency and accountability in government official acts, transactions or decisions”.

Under the 2016 Internal Rules of Procedures, particularly Section 30 of Rule V of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP), it provides that SP sessions or meetings of any committee shall be open to the public. This encourages the people listen to the proceedings and provide immediate constructive feedbacks to the members of the SP to further enhance or improve legislative measures.

Mr. Ablan stated that the ordinance supports President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Executive Order No. 2 issued on July 23, 2016 entitled “Operationalizing in the Executive Branch the People’s Right to Information and the State of Policies to Full Public Disclosure and Transparency in the Public Service and Providing Guidelines Thereof”.

The Laoag council earlier approved the Laoag City FOI Ordinance of 2017, in support of the president’s EO.

The planned livestreaming covers all regular and special sessions, committee hearings and other proceedings of the SP, unless the council decides on a closed session or ordered by an affirmative vote of majority for reasons of security, decency of morality; or for reasons affecting the dignity of the Sanggunian or any of its members or when they discuss confidential matters.

The proposed measure also calls on the presiding officer to inform the body if the proceedings are already on a livestream.

Should the livestream face technical difficulties, the council can upload the video and/or audio recording of the proceedings immediately after the session.

Laoag vice mayor and council presiding officer Michael V. Fariñas said he favors the proposal. He explained that the livestreaming of council sessions will help the public in understanding the issues they are tackling.

Laoag mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas, meanwhile, said she “respects the wisdom of the city council regarding the ordinance for transparency”.

She added that the city already included a budgetary allocation in the council’s budget for next year for this purpose.

Laoag Liga ng mga Barangay president and ex-officio councilor Mary Michelle Louise “Mikee” V. Fariñas and councilor Justine Clarence Chua co-sponsored the ordinance.

PCOO recognizes Ilocos Norte as ‘FOI champion’

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY— The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO recognized the Ilocos Norte government as one of the champions of the Freedom of Information program after a year of implementation nationwide.

Jun Arvin Gudoy, communications and media officer of the Ilocos Norte provincial government accepted the award on December 4, 2017 in Manila.

The PCOO thru the FOI program director and assistant secretary Atty. Kristian Ablan initiated the search for FOI champions to recognize the significant contributions of departments, attached agencies, government-owned-and/or-controlled corporations, state universities and colleges, and local government units in operationalizing the constitutional mandate of right to information.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin M. Andanar led the awarding ceremonies. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, chairperson of the House Committee on Public Information were also on hand during the event.

Based on established criteria, the screening committee composed of representatives from the Office of the Executive Secretary, the PCOO, and two civil society organizations evaluated the nominees.

The FOI Awards Night is part of the three-day FOI Summit organized by the PCOO and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Summit aims to celebrate the first anniversary of the FOI Program since its launch in November 25, 2016.

Executive Order No. 02, Series 2016, signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on July 23, 2016 made the FOI program official. It recognizes “the fundamental role of free and open exchange of information in a democracy” and through it the government aims to “enhance transparency and accountability in government official acts, transactions, or decisions.”

The PCOO then started the implementation of the FOI Program on November 25, 2017, which coincided with the launching of the FOI portal and the primary objective is to redefine the relationship of the government with its citizens through a full public disclosure and transparency in public service.

While the EO only covers the state's executive branch, it also encouraged LGUs to implement the same.

Ilocos Norte is among the first provinces in the country to implement the right of access to information as the Ilocos Norte board passed Provincial Ordinance No. 002-2016 on September 2016 now observed by all departments of the provincial government including the 21 towns and two cities here.

Amidst controversies hounding the Ilocos Norte government concerning the alleged misuse of tobacco excise tax, Ilocos Norte governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos said she is grateful to receive to the FOI award, promoting transparency and accountability in government.

In addition to official and public records, documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions and decisions, the FOI Bill also mandates sharing of government research data for use as basis in policy development. These include information on peace and order or school performance which would be useful even for Filipino families. (With a report from Bernard Ver)

DILG recommends PPOC reorganization

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) recommended the inclusion of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Land Transportation Office (LTO), and the National Commission of Indigenous People (NCIP) in the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).

Responding to this, Ilocos Norte governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos issued an executive order that will reorganize the said council.

Ilocos Norte vice governor Eugenio Angelo M. Barba, for his part and upon receiving a copy of both the recommendation letter and executive order, set a meeting with the respective heads of the mentioned agencies.

Mr. Barba added that he sees the council reorganization as a move to “improve safety and sustain peace and order in the province.”

He added that the LTO participation will also help solve crimes related to motor vehicles, especially the killings attributed to motorcycle-riding killers.

PDEA, on the other hand, he said will help the province further in its anti-drug efforts.

As for the NCIP, Mr. Barba said their inclusion will further broaden the council’s knowledge and expertise. (Frances Alegre)

ASEAN experts share R&D highlights to build resilient communities

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—In a gathering of environmental researchers and scientists across Southeast Asia, they presented various technologies, strategies and innovations in a three-day forum to rise above the challenges of climate change particularly in urban cities.

Organized by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the forum hopes to develop a holistic approach and come up with a resolution or agreement towards achieving urban resilience to climate change and disaster risks.

On December 5, 2017, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu urged member states of the ASEAN to focus on building sustainable cities and urban areas.

In the past 10 years, Mr. Cimatu noted that ASEAN countries became highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change as they are now experiencing more frequent extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

In a study conducted by World Bank, it identified the Philippines as early as 2009 as under the top list of most vulnerable countries to storms, with Vietnam as the second most vulnerable to rising sea levels, and Thailand and Vietnam among those threatened by flooding.

In 2006, the Global Climate Risk Index of GermanWatch listed four out of the 10 ASEAN countries—Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines—as among the 10 nations most affected by climate change from 1995 to 2014 based on annual averages.

Citing the vulnerability of ASEAN countries to climate change, he underscored the need for a proactive policy and action for urban resilience.

He noted that pursuing urban resiliency has become an urgent agenda for all nation as experts expect the world’s urban population to balloon to 2.5 billion by 2050.

Ilocos Norte governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos said Ilocos Norte is lucky as the venue of the forum.

“We are happy to showcase our efforts in renewable energy as well as the development of community-owned renewable production.  We are also pleased to showcase our green wall and the effort to create reforestation as a genuine community livelihood,” the governor said citing Ilocos residents are also eager to learn about the excellent water conservation efforts being practiced by other ASEAN member countries.

“While there’s [still] much to [do], through our exchanges for the next few days, we hope to explore more ideas that will tackle innovative approaches for sustaining urbanization that reflect the inclusiveness of development and the adverse consequences of climate change,” said Dr. Henry Adornado, director of DENR-ERDB in his message to the delegates attending the forum on December 5-7 at the Plaza del Norte, this city.

Following the opening ceremonies on December 5, 2017, plenary sessions immediately took off which include topics on climate change impact assessment, green growth strategies, policies, and disaster risk reduction management strategies.

The forum also opened an exhibit on urban resilience to guest and visitors at the convention lobby. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Ilocos Norte board finalizes quarry ordinance revision

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is finalizing its revision of the provincial quarry ordinance.

The revisions aim to provide a more systematic and comprehensive implementation of the said ordinance.

The revisions also seek to improve the implementing rules and regulations of the ordinance for the stakeholders’ benefit, particularly to the granting of quarry permits.

The board will also try to address the continuous decrease of quarry revenues that began in 2015. They believe the among the factors that precipitated the revenue decrease is the process in the renewal of permits and illegal quarry operations.

SP member Vicentito “Toto” M. Lazo stressed that quarry permittees must pay their taxes based on their respective total area of excavation, instead of based on their finished products from their quarry. (Frances Alegre)

Batac gov't eyes MOA with MMMH for complicated pregnancies

By Dominic Dela Cruz

Batac City—The city government here expects to enter an agreement with the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center MMMH-MC to tackle complicated pregnancies here.

To achieve this, the Sangguniang Panlungsod here authorized Batac mayor Albert D. Chua to represent the city government in negotiating a memorandum of agreement with the Batac hospital. Dr. Ma. Lourdes Otayza, MMMH chief of hospital, will represent the hospital.

Batac councilor Dr. Medeldorf Gaoat, who moved for the authorization, said the hospital should provide more advanced maternal and newborn care for complicated pregnancies referred by the Batac City Maternal and Child Health Care Clinic (BEMONC)/Lying Inn Clinic.

Mr. Gaoat, who chairs the committee on health, said that the BEMONC is a certified health facility which provides obstetric and neonatal care only to normal or uncomplicated cases.

In view of this, they will refer high-risk pregnancies identified during prenatal consultation to MMMH, Mr. Gaoat explained. He added that BEMONC does not have the facility and expertise to deal with complicated pregnancies.

He added that BEMONC is still applying for its accreditation for the Maternity Care Package (MCP) at the Philippine Insurance Corporation and to avail of this accreditation, there is a need for a MOA between the two parties to admit referred cases from the City Health Office (CHO).

After which, the city government of Batac will also apply for its accreditation from PhilHealth, Mr. Gaoat stated.

Kayat mi met kuma nga no adda pannakabalin nan to ket dagitay saan a kumplikado a pasiente mi ket umay dan to kuma metla aganak idiay lying-in clinic,” Mr. Gaoat said.

Batac vice mayor Jeffrey Jubal Nalupta, for his part said PhilHealth already granted an accreditation to the lying-in clinic and it also has a license to operate. However, he stressed that the clinic still needs an accreditation a provider for the birthing facility.

Tapnu dagitay normal nga aganak ket ditoy da lattan tapnu ma-decongest dita hospital tayo,” Mr. Nalupta stressed.

He also disclosed that the Batac government has invested millions for PhilHealth enrollees, and in this process, he said the city government needs the capitation fund to return to the city through the lying-in clinic.

Ngem iti problema, dakdakkel kuma iti sumrek a capitation fund no agop-operate daytoy lying-in clinic tayon imbes a mapmapan da iti sabali nga hospital ket dumakkel kuma met iti income iti city health office tayo ket mabalin nga usaren para iti pangpa istilo ken paggatang kadagiti facilities and equipment iti clinic tayo,” he stated.

Sarrat mayor suspends SB secretary

Sarrat, Ilocos Norte—Mayor Remigio B. Medrano ordered the preventive suspension of Sangguniang Bayan (SB) secretary Dennis Ribuyaco.

The preventive suspension, according to the mayor, is to protect the municipal government, especially the SB’s integrity from Mr. Ribuyaco’s “misconduct.”
The issue stemmed from an alleged existing Sarrat ordinance that granted permits to 22 quarry firms to excavate gravel and sand along this town’s Padsan River. The mayor apparently discovered that the official ordinance only granted permits to 5 of the 22 quarry firms.

Mr. Ribuyaco was on leave when the suspension the police served the suspension order on November 17, 2017. (Bernard Ver)

Laoag City World AIDS day commemoration

In support of the World AIDS Day, the city government of Laoag thru the City Health Office joins the commemoration through a walk-for-a-cause; “The Right to Health” campaign; HIV symposium and a media forum for HIV Awareness on December 1, 2017. (Doms dela Cruz)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

MMSU GSSSC conducts a seminar on financial literacy

Noel Rosales Argana, regional business manager of Allianz PNB Life, lectures on financial literacy during the lecture series of the Graduate School Supreme Student Council (GSSSC) of the Mariano Marcos State University.

As part of its year-long lecture series, the Graduate School Supreme Student Council (GSSSC) of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) held a financial literacy seminar on November 26 at the MMSU Graduate School Audio–Visual Room.

The main speaker for the seminar was Mr. Noel Rosales Argana, regional business manager of Allianz PNB Life, one of the major life insurers in the Philippines.

Mr. Argana’s talk focused on personal finance management and giving very useful tips on saving and handling money, investing and insurance.

“The richer people are those who took more risk,” he said.

Students of MMSU Graduate School, student leaders of AMA Laoag, members of the Sirib Ilocano Kabataan Association (SIKA) and employees of the city government of Laoag attended the seminar.

The lecture series of GSSSC aims to hold seminars and trainings on matters affecting personal development and community involvement.

Just recently, the group conducted lectures on leadership, project proposal writing, federalism, team building, planning, management and the comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance of Laoag.

The GSSSC is also set to implement outreach activities, sports projects and student development programs.

BARD NOTES: Happy bard-reading to Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos, Laoag City Mayor Chevylle V. Farinas, Laoag City Vice Mayor Michael V. Farinas, Badoc ABC President Virgilio Calajate, Ilocos Norte Provincial Treasurer Josephine P. Calajate, Dr. Miramar Bumanglag, DAR-Ilocos Norte PARPO II Vic M. Ines, DAR-Ilocos Norte CAO Rudy Acacio and PNB Laoag Branch Manager Metty V. Guerrero.
Greetings also to the employees of AMA Laoag, Laoag City PNP, DAR Ilocos Norte, DepEd Laoag, DepEd Ilocos Norte, PNB Laoag and to the members of Sirib Ilocano Kabataan Association (SIKA).

Ilocos Norte dad questions Laoag cockpit operation

By Dominic Dela Cruz

Laoag City—Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Vicentito “Toto” M. Lazo questioned the operation of the Laoag City Cockpit Arena without the needed permits and approval.

Mr. Lazo stressed that the provincial board has yet to review the franchise ordinance passed by the Laoag City council granted to the operator.

The cockpit arena conducted a derby on November 10, 2017.

Laoag mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas reasoned that she gave the operator a “special permit” to operate. She added that she based this on the opinion and advise of the city government’s legal officer.

She stated further that the permit she granted contained provisions that abide by all the requirements set forth by the franchise ordinance passed by the council.

The permit specifically states: “This permit is subject to the condition that all laws, ordinances, resolutions, general orders, Presidential Decrees, letters of instructions and letters of implementation governing the matter shall be strictly complied with”.

Ms. Fariñas went on to say that the person granted the permit may not have analyzed and interpreted the last portion of the permit properly. She said the last portion contained the condition.

She expressed hopes that all concerned will settle the problem soon. She added that the permittee, Alejandro B. Taylan, is “Very vocal, open and willing to whatever suggestions and recommendations to be made”.

Meanwhile, Laoag government’s business permit and licensing officer (BPLO) Melvin Manuel also confirmed that the special permit issued was only for the November 10 derby.

Earlier, the Laoag Sangguniang Panlungsod passed the franchise ordinance for Mr. Taylan to “establish, operate and maintain the conduct of cockfighting in the city of Laoag”. They passed the ordinance on October 30, 2017.

After the passage, Mr. Taylan immediately asked for a special permit for the November 10, 2017 derby from the mayor.       

On November 20, 2017. During their regular session, the council received another letter received endorsed by the office of the city mayor requesting again another special permit for the conduct of Derby on November 17, December 8, 15 and 26, 2017. All the requests were from Mr. Taylan.

Laoag councilor Atty. Franklin Respicio, who was then the temporary presiding officer, referred the request to the committee on games and amusement for further study.

Laoag councilor Edison Bonoan, in his individual report as vice chairman of the committee on games and amusement, said that he and committee chairperson councilor Handy agreed to defer the requests for the meantime until the higher sanggunian approved the franchise ordinance.

Miss Batac 2017

Thursday, January 4, 2018

OWWA Region 1 presents membership benefits to OFWs

By Bernard Ver

San Fernando City, La Union—The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) regional office 1 conducted a familiarization and beneficial functions of the organization conference to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the region here.

Social benefits update
At the forum, OWWA social benefit head Marissa C. Naboye discussed the “MedPlus” and welfare assistance program (WAP) for the “land-based” and “sea-based” workers. The assistance program deals with the accidental and death benefits for active, and non-active members including suicide cases—which falls under natural death.

Also, the WAP program covers calamity assistance and can give PHP3,000for the active member and PHP1,500 for the inactive. OWWA will give the said assistance within three months after a declaration of a ‘state of calamity” by the government.

Other assistances OWWA offers are: bereavement, disability, medical assistance, relief assistance that ranges from PHP10,000 to PHP20,000.

“Another one is the MedPlus—an illness program for the OWWA and PhilHealth members that provides supplemental health assistance especially the ones who has ‘dread disease’ per OFW-member. Sadly, 'metastasis' [mostly cancer patients] is not an excuse and only one disease [is]covered by this assistance program," explained Ms. Naboye.

Education, training assistance
OWWA-RWO1 education and training head Rhoda R. Lee emphasized the pre-employment/on-site employment/post-employment education program to prepare workers before departing the country.

According to law, she said the system should officially register legal working agencies and the laborers must submit themselves to undergo “pre-departure orientation program” (PDOS), and/or the comprehensive pre-departure education program (CPDEP), which OWWA conducts every Tuesday at their offices nationwide.

For the Scholarships for OFW Dependents, Ms. Lee said “The education and development scholarship program is a learning support mechanism of the administration that can give up to PHP60,000 for four- to five-year courses.” At present, the program covers 86 scholars.

Balik-Pinas, balik hanapbuhay
OWWA-RWO1 reintegration head Dolly Ann G. Camacho, for her part, explained the cash grant livelihood assistance program, the “Balik Pinas Balik Hanap Buhay” under the entrepreneurial development training (EDT) provided by the OWWA. Beneficiaries can utilize the cash grant amounting to PHP20,000 for livelihood projects including: hog-and other livestock-raising, rice trading, food-house, sari-sari store, snack house and welding shop.

Ms. Camacho said “OWWA is aware also of the repatriation problem of the OFWs, wherein there is displacement or laid-off workers.”

She added that there is existing OWWA program that help them along the way to have their business back in the country—as clamors of most OFWs.

Statistically, as of February 2017, there are 444,728 OFW members in region 1. There are 137,119 active and 307,609 inactive members; Pangasinan has 240,433; La Union has 78,347; Ilocos Sur has 71,934; and Ilocos Norte has 54,014.