Thursday, July 30, 2015

DPWH readies construction of 250 classrooms worth Php353M in Catanduanes
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional office for Bicol here is readying the plans and actual cost estimates for the implementation of the Php353-million public school building projects in the island-province of Catanduanes.

DPWH Regional Director Melvin Navarro on Wednesday said here that the biggest part of the total amount, reaching some Php215 million and intended for 27 buildings of 148 classrooms, comes from the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Senior High School (SHS) program.

Under this program, two-storey, six-classroom buildings are assigned for construction at the Buyo Integrated School, Calatagan High School, Palta National High School and Catanduanes National High School in Virac, Catanduanes, the provincial capital, Navarro said.

The same structures have also been scheduled under the same fund for the Cabcab National High School, Mananbrag National High School and San Andres Vocational School -- all in San Andres town; Baras Rural Development High School in Baras town; Bagamanoc Rural Development High School of the municipality of Bagamanoc; San Jose and Tambognon National High Schools in Viga town; Bato Rural Development High School and Cabugao Integrated School in Bato; Panganiban National High School of Panganiban town; and San Miguel Rural Development High School in the municipality of San Miguel.

Under the same funding, the Antipolo National High School in Virac, Bote National High School in Bato, Sicmil Integrated School in Gigmoto and Bugao National High School in Bagamanoc were also allotted two-storey, four- classroom building each, Navarro said.

From this Php215-million funding, the Lictin Integrated School in San Andres will be provided a one-storey, four-classroom building; Dororian Elementary School of the same town, two units of three- and two-classroom buildings; and Juan M. Alberto Memorial Elementary School and Mayngaway National High School, both in Virac, will get two-storey, six-classroom building each.

Another part of the total funding is the Php37-million allocation from the 2014 DepEd’s Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEFF) which provides for the construction of one-storey, one-classroom buildings for the Obi and Inalmasinan elementary Schools in Caramoran town; Agban National High School in Baras; San Isidro Elementary School in San Andres, Catamban Elementary School in Pandan and Calabnigan Elementary School in Virac.

Also under this funding are the construction of a one-storey, two-classroom building each for the San Rafael Primary School and Cobo Integrated School in Pandan and another one for the Panganiban National High School, Navarro said.

The rest of the total fund amounting Php101 million and intended for six projects in the province, on the other hand, comes from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) as part of its school building program in the countryside.

Navarro said PAGCOR has earmarked about Php17 million each for six two-storey, 10-classroom buildings in San Miguel Rural Development High School, Mayngaway National High School, Lictin Integrated School, Viga Rural Development High School, Catanduanes National High School and the former Catanduanes Institute of Techonology Foundation Inc. in Virac that has been donated to the DepEd for the SHS program.

According to the DepEd regional office, also here, the impending construction of these school buildings in Catanduanes is mostly part of the preparations for the full implementation of the K-12 program which will cover the SHS curriculum next school year.

The other projects are for the continuing enhancement of the basic education program.

It said DepEd’s 2014 and 2015 budgets had allocations for 30,000 classrooms for SHS while the initial target for the proposed 2016 budget, which is subject for approval, is over 20,000 classrooms while the government shall further allocate investments for the same program.

DepEd Regional Director Ramon Fiel Abcede said that the SHS (grades 11 and 12) was divided into four tracks -- TVA, GAS, Sports and Arts and Design, which would help prepare graduates for higher education, entrepreneurship, further middle skills development or work.

Bicol, he said, was now ready for the SHS as the DepEd regional office had already oriented school officials, organized the implementation teams, launched advocacy programs, conductive consultative conferences, coordinated with other government agencies, benchmarked pilot implementers, formulated action plans and strengthened the Career Guidance Program.

These were all the most salient points needed prior to the start of the implementation of the new program in School Year 2016-2017, Abcede said as he stressed that his office was seriously concerned about laying the grounds for the smooth transition that ushered in significant changes in the educational system not only in the region, but also the whole country, in general.

The five critical challenges anticipated in the beginning of the new program-- material resources, human resources, stakeholders’ support, curriculum development and funding -- were also being addressed.

"Curriculum development and funding schemes are concerns mainly to be handled by the DepEd Central Office, while material and human resources as well as stakeholders’ support are challenges given to the regional office,” Abcede said.

Material resources include classrooms, chairs and laboratory equipment while the preparedness of teachers to teach in the different tracks and assistance to the students for decision-making on the choice of tracks are under Human Resource (HR) concerns, he said.

Stakeholders’ support consisted of local government units, industry partners, government agencies and, of course, parents’ support," the regional director added. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DSWD vows completion of Php2.3-B Kalahi projects in Bicol before 2015 ends
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) – A total of Php1.048 billion, or about half of the Php 2.3-billion fund for 2014-2015 projects under the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) in Bicol, had been downloaded to communities in 88 municipalities in the region, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Director Arnel Garcia said here.

Kalahi-CIDSS is a community-driven development (CDD) project of the national government which strongly advocates the involvement of local communities in the design and implementation of development projects to address the issue of poverty in the country.

Placed under the supervision of the DSWD, the project aims to improve local governance by employing the participation of the people in the communities in the development process.

Under its CDD approach, community members consensually decide on what type of poverty-reduction sub-projects they need for funding.

Common projects include public goods or access projects such as pathways, farm-to-market roads, health centers, water systems, day care centers and school buildings; community enterprise projects such as solar dryers, fishery, rice mills and community markets.

Residents who take the lead role in the implementation of the 1,284 people-identified sub-projects in selected Bicol areas under Kalahi have already started works on them this month.

“We target that these are completed before the year ends so that the poor villages can immediately use these facilities and services,” Garcia said.

The selection of project areas was based on the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) or Listahanan, which in 2009 assessed 59.5 percent or 461,242 of the total of 775, 014 households in the region as poor.

Listahanan is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are by making the database of poor families available and becomes the basis in identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs and services.

The assessment identified in Masbate 103,478 or 64.6 percent of its 160,257 households as poor while of Albay’s 141,617 households, 88,242 or 62.3 percent were poor and Camarines Sur, with 226,714 households, had 136,208, equivalent to 60 percent listed under the same classification.

The same statistics show Camarines Norte having 40,802 poor or 56.5 percent of its 72,227 households; Sorsogon 75,769 poor or 53.6 percent of 141,388 households; and Catanduanes, 16,743 or 51 percent poor out of its 32,811 households.

“We derived the list of prioritized poor communities granted the projects from the results of municipal forums held early this year in 88 of the 105 municipalities of the region,” Garcia said.

One of the Kalahi-CIDSS’ thrusts this year is to support the post-disaster response and development in typhoon "Yolanda"-affected municipalities covered by the program and selected based on poverty incidence.

The municipal forums convened all the communities represented by the barangay captains, residents elected as community volunteers, civil society organizations, people’s organizations and representatives of national government agencies together with local government officials to identify proposed priority projects.

“The participation of ordinary residents in the program is very crucial in the development priorities of the government since they know what they need to solve poverty,” Garcia said.

Each barangay assembly was used as a major avenue for direct participation of the people in local governance agenda for the project where issues were discussed and decisions documented and supported.

Kalahi-CIDSS has an “open menu” wherein communities can propose any project, provided the amount involved is within the municipal allocation and does not belong to its negative list, the DSWD regional chief explained.

These proposed projects were confirmed through a resolution of local legislative councils of Sangguniang Bayan that recommended the grant of allocation in response to the needs of the barangays, especially those who were affected by and are vulnerable to disasters.

The criteria on how poor communities were prioritized for funding were based on the community’s population, number of Listahanan-identified poor households and the number of typhoon-affected households.

The prioritized communities are now busy working on their projects, utilizing approved fund allocated to them and, Garcia said, the progress of each project monitored by his office is impressive that the deadline for their completions before the year ends could be met.

In accessing to the funds, each beneficiary barangay was made to open a separate bank account where the money is downloaded by the DSWD.

“The project-hired area coordinators of DSWD, barangay treasurers and the barangay sub-project management committee chairpersons are the bank signatories authorized to disburse the funds for the labor and materials and other administrative expenses incurred for the sub-projects,” Garcia said.

Downloading of the funds are divided in three tranches—the first after completion of required pre-implementation documents and the rest, upon reaching the required target for the sub'project's physical completion and fund utilization with corresponding liquidations, he added. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Robredo calls on fellow legislators to pass FOI bill
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) – Rep. Leni Gerona-Robredo of the second congressional district of Camarines Sur has called on her fellow legislators to support the passing into law of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill which President Benigno Aquino III has declared as “urgent”.

“I thank the President for including FOI as one of this administration’s urgently needed bills. I am hopeful that this measure will be passed before the end of this 16th Congress. I also call on my fellow legislators to continue supporting and pushing for the FOI bill,” Robredo said in a statement reaching the Philippines News Agency here Wednesday.

The bill has been pending in both the House of Representatives and the Senate since the 8th Congress, she said.

The passage of this law is in line with the President’s call during his State of the Nation Address – “Simula pa lang ito,” said Robredo who reintroduced in the 16th Congress the Lower House’s version of the measure under House Bill No. 3237 co-authored by Rep. Henedina Abad of the lone district of Batanes.

Its Senate version filed under Senate Bill No. 1733 was, on the other hand, jointly introduced by Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Antonio Trillanes IV, Sergio OsmeƱa III, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Allan Peter Cayetano, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

In introducing the measure, Robredo explained that “one of the keys to a government’s success in governance rests upon its efforts in being transparent and involved with its citizenry.

Some of these efforts include promptly releasing its transactions and policies for the public to peruse and utilizing technology to further its endeavors for the people.”

What the proposed law seeks to achieve, she said, was for Filipinos to trust their government and one of the ways was for government to be transparent in its dealings, either in fiscal transactions or in policies, to provide the public with information that would allow them to participate and contribute in governance.

“This measure will augment our people’s efforts in creating a more transparent and accountable government. It will empower its citizenry and it is in their empowerment that governance towards a progressive society can be achieved,” she said.

The Camarines Sur representative, the widow of the late former Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo who died in a plane accident while serving as Secretary the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) nearly three years ago, said “an FOI law will ensure that the Philippines will have an accountable and transparent government years after our terms have expired.”

She said that in his annual budget message to the House of Representatives for the submission of the proposed Php3.0002-trillion 2016 national budget, President Aquino on Tuesday emphasized the need for greater and continued transparency and accountability in government by the enactment of the FOI.

The budget message outlines the priority projects and programs of the administration for the upcoming budget season, according to Robredo.

The proposed budget, which is 15.2 percent or Php396-billion higher than last year’s, also seeks to continue to expand the national economy and sustain governance and budget reforms that the Aquino administration has instituted in the last five years.

On the FOI Bill, Robredo quoted the President as saying in the message that “to ensure the permanency of transparency policies, we urge Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Act.”

This FOI bill is an integral element of the Aquino Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Plan of 2012-2016 that lays out reforms and initiatives that pursue greater transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in governance.

This draft bill is a result of a consultative process conducted by an administration study group after careful study of similar legislation in order to balance the government’s legitimate needs for secrecy with the public’s right to know. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/

CSC orients Legazpi City regular employees on PRIME-HRM
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- Regular employees of this city participated in an orientation seminar on the Prime to Institutionalize Mentocracy and Excellence in Human Resource Management (PRIME- HRM) the whole day Tuesday at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.

The PRIME- HRM is a program of the Civil Service Commission which aims to enhance the HRM competence of government agencies.

This program has three A components -- Assess, Assist and Award.

The whole-day activity was spearheaded by the City Government of Legazpi in cooperation with CSC Bicol Regional Office.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal, in his statement, said the activity was part of enhancing the knowledge of the city’s regular employees in order for them to know their duties and responsibilities as part of the workforce of the city administration.

Rosal urged the employees to always do their jobs in a judicious way of working to maintain transparency in their work in the city administration as, he said, “all of us here -- including the department heads, elective officials and the casual employees -- are all accountable to our own respective jobs.

Arpon Ultra Lucero, director II of the CSC Bicol regional office, said the purpose of this activity as part of the program of the CSC was to elevate the maturity level of the Human Resource Management Office of the city administration to the next higher level.

Lucero said that based on the assessment by the CSC of the regular employees of the City Government of Legazpi, they learned that their performance was classified in the transactional level, which is the basic step under the criterion of the commission.

Through this orientation, the gap between the transactional level and the process define will be addressed, he added.

Process define is the system of any agency or LGU with complete documentation to be used for their daily transactions.

This system will also inform the employees who want to apply for higher position.

They will undergo the recruitment, selection and placement procedure, which is documented, he pointed out. (PNA) RMA/FGS/EPS/CBD/EDS

Suspected child trafficker nabbed in entrapment operation

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, July 29 (PNA) -- Joint operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Sorsogon City Police Station arrested a suspected child trafficker in an entrapment operation on Monday afternoon at Barangay Pangpang, Sorsogon City.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol regional police director, on Wednesday identified the suspect as Jeenivie Daria, 28, a resident of Barangay Cambulaga, Sorsogon City but a native Davao Del Sur.

Deona said the victims are Donna (not her real name), 15, and Ruby (also not her real name), 16 -- both residents of Sorsogon City.

He said Chief Insp. Errol Garchitorena, CIDG Sorsogon chief, reported that the police operatives arrested Daria at about 2 p.m. after she received money from a police asset posing as customer for the two teen-aged girls.

The police officers brought the suspect and the two girls to the CIDG office for custody and proper disposition.

Daria faces a case for violation of RA 9208 or Human Trafficking Act whose maximum penalty is lifetime imprisonment and a fine of PHP500,000 to PHP1 million. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

PNoy anoints Roxas -- Salceda
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas had called him earlier Wednesday during the meeting of the core group of his campaign at Balay in Cubao, Quezon City and told him that President Aquino had anointed the DILG chief and "given the go signal".

Salceda said in a phone interview that the formal announcement will be made at 9 a.m. Friday at the historic Club Filipino.

He said LP members, mostly governors, congressmen, city and town mayors are being invited together with civil society organizations.

"I am still hoping that Grace Poe will agree to be the running mate for vice president," the Albay chief executive said.

Based on the meeting, he said, he guessed he would be making robust inputs to the national campaign, aside from being regional LP chairman, based on his discussions with Mar.

Salceda, who is still in Manila, said he expected Roxas to leave the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to concentrate on his campaign and party building.

After the endorsement, some 1,000 LP members will congregate on Tuesday at the Gloria Maris.

This will be followed by a meeting with the governors, and on Tuesday, Roxas will meet CSO leaders.

Salceda believes that the anointment of Roxas by the President would improve his rating from 13 percent to 16 percent.

He also believes that a Mar-Grace tandem would be a perfect match, saying both have the same aim and focus, which is "good governance." (PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS