Friday, May 27, 2016

DA OKs PHP20.7-M PRDP funding for Bicol fisherfolks, farmers calamity recovery strategy
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the grant of some PHP20.7 million to finance the establishment of microenterprise (ME) ventures for the recovery from economic dislocation of farmers and fisherfolk affected by past calamities in Bicol.

The fund, intended for 15 groups of recipients, will come from the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), a foreign-funded program being implemented by DA and designed as a platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture in the region and other parts of the country.

The grant, which was recently announced here by the PRDP’s Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB), was based on microenterprise project proposals earlier submitted by the proponent groups from Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon -- three of the six Bicol provinces hardest hit by recent typhoons.

Catanduanes was badly hit by typhoon "Lando" in October last year while Albay and Sorsogon suffered from the onslaught of typhoon "Nona" in December, also last year.

Both weather disturbances heavily affected the livelihood of the local fisheries and agricultural sectors.

PRDP-Bicol enterprise development (I-REAP) component head Adelina Losa on Thursday said these ME sub-projects under the PDRP are aimed at providing the direct beneficiaries sustainable income-generating activities for them to be able to recoup from their losses.

She said 11 of the ME sub-projects reviewed, approved and endorsed for PRDP funding by the RPAB were proposed by groups of farmers and fisherfolk from Sorsogon who will engage, among others, in native chicken-raising, gabi (taro) and ginger production and marketing and cottage industry.

Other enterprises are seaweed production and marketing, cassava chips processing as well as organic vegetable and other food crop production.

An amount of PHP10.6 million was approved for these undertakings, Losa said.

Among the recipients is the Fisherfolk Association of Barangay Tomalaytay in Castilla, Sorsogon whose president, Roberto Salgado, said the group is using the fund granted amounting to PHP1.2 million in seaweeds production and marketing.

“Ito’y para sa unti-unting pagbangon sa kabuhayan naming mga mangingisda para maitaguyod namin ang aming pamilya sa pamamagitan ng seaweeds. Pauunlarin namin ito upang di masayang ang tiwalang ibinagay sa amin ng gobyerno. Salamat sa DA at kay Pangulong Aquino (This is for the gradual economic recovery of us, fisherfolk, for us to be able to support our family through seaweeds. We will nurture this so that the trust given us by the government is not wasted. Thanks to the DA and to Pres. Aquino),” Salgado said.

For Albay, among the sub-projects approved for funding is for the province’s Small Ruminant Raisers Association (ASRRA) whose Enhancing Farm Capacity and Adoption of Nutrition Technology for Goat Production enterprise is getting PHP1.3 million as per RPAB recommendation, according to Losa.

She said two MEs worth PHP2.7 million were also approved for the municipalities of Gigmoto and Pandan of Catanduanes whose recipients will engage in rice and broiler production and marketing.

This PHP20.7-million grant is just but partial as the RPAB, Losa said, has approved more for PRDP funding this year like the PHP2.9-million charcoal and rice hull briquette production and farm mechanization proposed by the municipalities of Esperanza and Milagros, Masbate

The RPAB, Losa said, has also approved and endorsed the PHP3.2-million Seaweeds Nursery and Production Project proposed by the Biga Farmers and Fishermen Association in Magallanes, a Sorsogon coastal town along the shoreline of Ticao Pass.

This sub-project is Bicol’s first Global Environment Facility (GEF)-supported ME designed to contribute to biodiversity conservation and strengthen the coastal and marine resources base in targeted project areas.

The Ticao Pass is one of the region’s biodiversity waters pre-identified by DA and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as target sites for PRDP, which will integrate to its funding the PHP287-million grant from the GEF, an international organization that helps address global environmental issues to its institutional reforms.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Jocelyn Blanco, who is a member of the RPAB, said awardees of I-REAP sub-project funding should see it as an opportunity for them to progress so that each group must work together on the sustainability of their approved microenterprises.

The PRAB is the body that provides guidance, reviews and approves undertakings for funding under PRDP, a six-year rural development project worth over PHP27.5 billion funded through a loan from World Bank amounting to PHP20.56 billion and PHP7 billion counterparts from the Philippine government and local government units (LGUs).

In six years—2013-2019, PRDP aims to raise annual real farm incomes of household beneficiaries by five percent, increase the value of annual marketed output by seven percent and ensure that 20 percent more farmers and fishers benefit from DA services.

On top of the recently approved PHP20.7-million I-REAP funding, DA-Bicol is also awaiting the release of the PHP1.5-billion fund for various sub-projects under the Intensified Building Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD) component of PRDP which the RPAB has approved for the provinces of Albay, Camarines sur and Camarines Norte.

Among these subprojects are the PHP618.6-million construction of Tablon-Cagmanaba Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) with five bridges in Oas, Albay and the concreting of FMRs in municipalities of Paracale, Basud and Sta. Elena, all of Camarines Norte amounting to PHP413.8 million.

Apart from these, the RPAB also endorsed for funding this year seven I-BUILD subprojects worth a total of PHP452 million for the municipalities of Pamplona, Del Gallego, Pasacao, Libmanan, Sipocot and Ragay—all in Camarines Sur.

Elena de los Santos, the DA’s Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension and PRDP focal person, said these subprojects are the first batch of proposals submitted by the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Units (PPMIUs) in Bicol for 2015 and subsequently approved by the RPAB. (PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD

Salceda eyes barangay, SK elections postponement amid federalism talks

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Outgoing Albay Governor and newly-elected 2nd district House Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said he will file a bill seeking the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections set in October.

Salceda said his proposal is to give way preparation for the country's possible shift to federal from the presidential form of government.

“I will file or co-author a similar bill seeking the postponement of the barangay and SK elections once the 17th Congress opens in July to give way for this political and constitutional reforms,” Salceda said in a statement posted on his Facebook account.

He said the upcoming 17th Congress should start debates on the possible Charter change.

Salceda said the Constitutional amendments should include not only the political but economic reforms "to break down high concentration of business ownership and market share through foreign competition."

Earlier, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista said the commission would suggest to Congress to postpone barangay and SK elections.

Bautista cited 'election fatigue' considering the country has just finished its national and local elections.

The Comelec top official also said holding election in over 42,000 barangays would cost at least Php3.4 billion.

Bautista said he plans to consult with presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte about the commission's proposal.

Duterte has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government.(PNA) JFM/FGS/MSA/CBD

Thursday, May 26, 2016

DepEd urges schools not to require expensive school supplies
By Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes

MANILA, May 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Education (DepEd) is urging all public schools to refrain from requiring expensive school supplies for students as classes begin on June 13.

The DepEd made the call together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) during the special monitoring activity for school supplies in bookstores around Recto Avenue, Manila on Tuesday.

DepEd Assistant Secretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Atty. Tonisito M.C. Umali called on the administrators of public schools to refrain from prescribing any branded or expensive school supplies which contribute to budgetary constraints of parents, especially those with children studying in public schools.

"Makakaasa po kayo na ang ating mga pampublikong paaralan ay hindi mag-oobliga ng mga mamahaling school supplies. (Rest assured that our public schools will not require expensive school supplies) No specific type or brand of school supplies will be required," said Umali.

"Maski po yung mga lumang kwaderno na spiral na may sobrang pahina na hindi nagamit noong nakaraang taon ay pwedeng pagsama-samahin at tahiin (All the unused pages of old notebooks in the previous school year can still be compiled and sown together),” he added.

The DepEd official recommended the "Gabay sa Pamimili ng School Supplies" released by the DTI to properly guide consumers in their purchase of school supplies. The link is posted on the official website and social media accounts of DepEd.

The special monitoring activity for school supplies was spearheaded by the DTI, together with representatives from DepEd, Department of Health-Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA), Local Government Unit-Manila and Senator Bam Aquino.

The monitoring team reported stable and reasonable prices of school supplies. (PNA) BNB/FMC/EDS

President Aquino signs law enhancing depositor protection

MANILA, May 25 (PNA) -- President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed Republic Act No. 10846 amending the Charter of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) or the deposit insurance law.

The depositing public, consisting of approximately 50 million deposit account holders as of December 2015, stands to benefit from the amendments which further enhanced PDIC’s authority to provide depositor protection.

The law also gives PDIC fiscal and administrative autonomy and authority to resolve problem banks while still open. It will take effect 15 days following the publication in the Official Gazette or in two newspapers of general circulation.

R.A. No. 10846 is a product of the painstaking work undertaken by the authors in both Houses of Congress – Senator Sergio R. OsmeƱa III, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, and by Rep. Nelson P. Collantes, Chairman of the Committee on Banks and Other Financial Intermediaries of the House of Representatives.

PDIC President Cristina Que Orbeta welcomed the passage of the law.

“The amendments to the deposit insurance law will ultimately redound to the benefit of the depositing public. The enhanced authorities will afford depositors better protection as PDIC may now address risks posed by problem banks early on. This will also enable PDIC to perform its role in maintaining financial stability and managing the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF),” Orbeta said.

Under the law, depositors will have quicker access to their insured deposits in the event of bank closure since PDIC now has the authority to pay insured deposits without netting out depositors’ loan obligations with the closed bank, and based on evidence of deposits and not on the closed bank’s records alone. To further protect depositors from unsafe and unsound banking practices of some banks, the law also restored PDIC’s authority to terminate the insured status of banks that engage in unsafe and unsound banking practices.

With its enhanced resolution authorities, PDIC will also be able to more effectively promote financial inclusion through early intervention in problem banks or open bank resolution.

In cases where bank closure becomes inevitable, R.A. 10846 enhanced the chances of recovery by creditors of their claims against the assets of the closed bank by preventing the further dissipation of these assets through seamless transition from bank closure to liquidation.

The law does away with the 90-day receivership period and allows PDIC to proceed directly to liquidation. The immediate assignment of encumbered assets to closed bank creditors, adoption of purchase of assets and assumption of liabilities as a mode of liquidation, and express prohibition on reopening of banks ordered closed by the Monetary Board will help enhance recovery rate for creditors of closed banks.

R.A. 10846 also strengthened PDIC’s institutional and governance framework to align it with international best practices. (PNA) SCS/PR/PDIC/EDS

Duterte mulls on nationwide revamp of PNP, random drug test of police officers

DAVAO CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is mulling on a massive revamp in the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the highest officers down to the rank and file as wake-up call to their sloppy performance and get rid of those involved in illegal activities.

“I will sleep on it tonight,” Duterte told reporters in a two-hour press conference midnight Wednesday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel. He said he would implement a massive reshuffling not only the officers but everybody once he sits as the President.

Duterte is eyeing assignments of those in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) particularly the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinglupa and Iwahig Penal Colony where drugs are manufactured; the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA); and other PNP units to hard-to-reach areas or the rebels’ lair in Mindanao. He said he might even assign officers in the police stations in Metro Manila to Davao or the boondocks in Mindanao like Jolo.

And before going to new assignments, Duterte will order a random drug test on all police officers beginning July 1. He said he would even buy the most sophisticated drug test unit known in Japan.

Duterte made the declaration following reports that five died of drug overdose in a Close-Up concert party in the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. He was outrage that the police failed to prevent the incident from happening.

“There was failure of intelligence. Umpisa pa lang dapat nang-aamoy na kayo At the start (of the party) you should be sniffing (for information),” said Duterte, adding that the police failed in monitoring the activities of the people inside the venue. “Ang nangyari sa atin crime solution na lang (What is happening to us is just crime solution),” he said.

According to Duterte, it is common knowledge that rave parties are usually associated with drugs like ecstacy. He said it should have been strictly monitored by the law enforcers. “Magpapasahan sila diyan (They are just pass it around),” he said.

After the revamp and the officers still fail to reform, Duterte said he will ask the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to temporarily perform law enforcement duties particularly the illegal drugs and the task of guarding the prisons.

Duterte called for the press conference at 11:30 p.m to express his outrage on the Close-Up concert incident.

“As a mayor – I am addressing myself as a citizen of this Republic. I am not really the one person talking like this,” he said asking intelligence community like the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), PDEA where is the money of people for intelligence and operations.

“You are paid to prevent incidents from happening. I am at a lost. It is unacceptable that you can’t prevent people from…(bringing into the venue) entertainment drugs,” he said, emphasizing that government is allotting huge funds for intelligence and operations.

Duterte said he can feel the anger of the parents of the young people. "Nobody is talking about it,” he said. (PNA) FFC/LCM/LDP

Identities of HIV-positive persons must remain confidential -- Albay AIDS Council
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- An official of the Albay Aids Council (AAC) has appealed to the public to understand and respect the rights of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-positive persons.

Miguel Dela Rama, AAC spokesperson, said the AAC has been continuously informing the public about issues on HIV through seminar and training of health personnel, persons with HIV, media and community leaders but they cannot reveal the names and locations of HIV-positive patients in Albay as what some curious individuals want the AAC to do.

The AAC provides information and education communication to the public about HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), he said.

"This is HIV-AIDS 101 or basic information on what the disease is, what the modes of transmission are, how to prevent it and what the services of concerned agencies are," Dela Rama added.

Again, he said, one can only acquire the virus through penetrative unprotected sexual intercourse, blood transfusion and breast milk, if the mother is positive.

"If you are faithful to your partner, then there is no risk," the AAC spokesperson said.

Dela Rama disclosed that from 1984 to 2016, there have been 124 HIV cases reported in the province of Albay.

The AAC also educates the community on how to deal with persons with HIV but not to warn the public about the existence an HIV person in a certain community.

"It is not the right approach. Instead we need to inform the community that HIV can be prevented and easy to prevent. It is acquired, not hereditary, Dela Rama explained.

Article VI of Republic Act 8504, otherwise known as the “Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998” states that the medical confidentiality shall be strictly observed in the handling of all medical information, particularly the identity and status of persons with HIV.

However, in the following instances the exceptions to the mandate of confidentiality shall not be considered breached: (a) when complying with reportorial requirements in conjunction with the AIDSWATCH programs provided in Sec. 27 of this Act; (b) when informing other health workers directly involved or about to be involved in the treatment or care of a person with HIV/AIDS: Provided, That such treatment or care carry the risk of HIV transmission: Provided, further, That such workers shall be obliged to maintain the shared medical confidentiality; (c) when responding to a subpoena duces tecum and subpoena ad testificandum issued by a court with jurisdiction over a legal proceeding where the main issue is the HIV status of an individual.

The law also provides that results of HIV/AIDS testing shall be confidential and shall be released; the person who submitted himself/herself to such test; either parent of a minor child who has been tested; a legal guardian in the case of insane persons or orphans; a person authorized to receive such results.

Any violation of medical confidentiality shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for six months to four years, RA8504 said.

"Our office is mandated to follow this law and its implementation.

"Persons with HIV are monitored by our office because they receive regularly their anti-retroviral drugs/ medicine from the HIV-AIDS Core Team," Dela Rama said.

Persons living with HIV, he said, are fully aware of the infection prior to the voluntary HIV test; meaning to say, they are given HIV counseling before they submit themselves for an HIV test.

After the result, the patient will again undergo of post-counseling, which includes information about HIV and important details on how to undergo the treatment as well as where to coordinate and avail of other services.

Dela Rama said tuberculosis is much more contagious than HIV.

"You can acquire TB easy thru saliva, sharing of foods or utensils of a TB patient but in HIV, you can only be infected through unprotected sexual intercourse (multiple partner), blood transfusion of an contaminated blood -- meaning with HIV, breastfeeding or mother to child transmission," he said.

The AAC official lamented the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV due to low knowledge of the community, adding that the problem lies not in the persons with HIV but in the few who know less about HIV.

"If we name names and the identity and location of the HIV-positive persons in our province, we are not just committing sins but we are killing them little by little by not giving them the right to live. The stigma and the discrimination of the society is more contagious than the virus of HIV," Dela Rama said.

In Albay, the HIV testing facilities are in Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital, Daraga Social Hygene Clinic and Tabaco Social Hygiene Clinic. In Naga City, one may go to the Social Hygiene Clinic or Bicol Medical Center. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD