Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DA rallies Bicol LGUs into heightened participation in climate-smart agriculture

PILI, Camarines Sur, April 14 (PNA) –- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is rallying provincial governments in Bicol into intensified participation in the ongoing implementation of a foreign-funded program that serves as a platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture in the region.

The program is named Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) whose national implementation carries P27.535 billion in total fund -- consisting of P20.553 billion loan from the World Bank, P3.579 billion as national government counterpart, P3.118 billion equity of the local government units and P287-million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

It involves 80 provincial local government units and agri-fishery stakeholders nationwide in realizing the goals of improved food security and increased incomes, climate resiliency and enhanced policy environment and governance.

Its implementation from 2013 to 2019 has identified four -- Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon — of the six provinces in Bicol as beneficiaries that the DA is engaging in orientation-meetings on investments for Agri-Fishery Microfinance Program (AFMP) to support farmers and fisher folk engaged in priority commodities.

AFMP is a joint program of the DA, the Agricultural Credit Policy Council and the Land Bank of the Philippines to improve the incomes of small farm and fishing households through improved access to financial services that can help enable them to diversify income sources and improve the profitability of their main agricultural or fishing activities.

Albay was chosen as among the beneficiaries with coconut as the priority commodity focused on coco coir and virgin coconut oil as identified under the province’s Value Chain Assessment.

Ruben Limos, Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer for Albay, said the project will have a big impact on the coconut industry of the province since 40,200 hectares of its total 103,774 hectares agricultural land is planted to coconut.

The development of enterprises on coco coir and virgin coconut oil will create more jobs and added income for the coconut farmers whose majority relies only on copra trading.

For Catanduanes, the provincial government is yet to decide on one of the three commodities—abaca, coconut and crab -- identified for the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP) while Sorsogon has chosen pili.

Masbate has not decided yet on the specific commodity, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas based here, on Monday said.

The orientation-meetings are focused on the four components of the program--I-PLAN (Planning at the Local and National Levels, I-BUILD (Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development), I-REAP (Investments for Rural Enterprises and Agri-Fishery Productivity and I-SUPPORT (Support to Program Implementation).

Bragas said the provincial governments are being taught by the DA how to prepare their PCIPs which is a requirement for fund allocation from the program that would be released directly to the province.

A PCIP is a product of the value-chain analysis and interventions focused on the identified commodity and orientations on this are being conducted to familiarize provincial governments and their planning teams on the process of its preparation using the same analysis, Bragas said.

The PRDP is also being implemented in collaboration with the National Convergence Initiative for synchronized delivery of programs and services to the rural communities and harmonization of priority areas to eliminate duplication and maximize complementation of activities.

The Department of Public Works and Highways is also involved to provide technical support in the design of farm-to-market roads and bridges and coordination to complement with the national road network plan.

Other agencies involved in the program are the Department of Science and Technology to provide access to research activities and transfer of developed technologies related to agriculture products and processes; Department of Trade and Industry for enterprise development; and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as support to Conditional Cash Transfer Program.

The Department of Budget and Management, Department of Interior and Local Government, DSWD and National Anti-Poverty Commission are also involved for a more participatory planning and budgeting through involvement of grassroots organizations and communities. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DA-Bicol intensifies production of genetically-improved carabao breeds
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, April 14 (PNA) –- The Regional Field Unit (RFU) here for Bicol of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is harnessing the potential of artificial insemination (AI) in accelerating genetic improvements towards increasing the productivity of carabaos.

“We are intensifying this activity to help farmers in the region in conserving animal genetics and promote better breeds that are resistant to diseases,” DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas on Monday said.

While farm mechanization is a campaign that DA is aggressively pushing for more crop production in Bicol, Bragas said the agency still accepts the fact that carabaos remain associated with local farmers who consider the animal as their best friend and work buddy especially in small hold and draft animal-dependent farming.

“Although mechanization is slowly sidetracking the use of carabaos, certain activities in the farm will never allow farmers to dispense with the carabao as, for them, it remains their best friend and work companion,” Bragas stressed.

And since the rise in oil price is significantly impacting on the cost of farm inputs -- leading to a considerable increase in the cost of production and resulting in upward movement of food prices, with rural farming families caught in a tight situation of declining net income and reduced purchasing power -- the importance of the lowly carabao that does not require fuel and spare parts persists, he said.

The swamp type of carabao is the most commonly use draft animal in the region and it can be used for farm works from four to 15 years.

It could also produce milk that contains five percent proteins, which is higher than the 3.5 percent in those sourced from cow and goat.

Its meat, commonly called carabeef, is more nutritious than that of the cattle because it has 41 percent less cholesterol, 92 percent less fat and 56 percent fewer calories.

Fresh carabeef has higher crude protein than pork and beef and the meat is produced with fewer hormones or antibiotics because they are raised mainly out of nature’s fodder and grain.

Besides, the carabao manure which is left anywhere in the field has economic importance as it contains 18.5 percent nitrogen, 43.7 percent phosphoric acid and 9.6 percent potash, making it a good fertilizer.

This waste can be used as fuel when dried and produce methane for biogas.

Despite these many uses and importance of the lowly carabao, the population of this animal, according to Bragas, is declining as most farmers are forced into selling their draft animal amid threats of diseases like hemorrhagic septicemia, a bacterial disease transmitted through infected feeds and water.

Besides, these animals are also getting smaller and poor producer of milk thus, the DA-RFU, in collaboration with the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), is intensifying the upgrading of the animal in the region through AI.

Earlier results of this activity show that crossing murrah buffalo and Philippine carabao into a genetically-improved breed called F1 makes the animal grow as much as 100-percent faster and produces up to 300 percent more milk, Bragas said.

Murrah buffalo, he explained, is the most important and well known water buffalo breed being traditionally managed under domestic conditions.

They feed on different kinds of roughages and on concentrate mixtures, and if pasture grasses are available, they graze all day long.

Growing with short, heavy and stockily-built body featuring a large belly, an F1 is resistant to damp conditions and tropical diseases and also the best breed for milk production, Bragas said.

Native carabaos, he said, weigh only at an average of some 100 kilos while the weight of an F1 could reach as much as 300 kilos.

Aside from this, the latter produces around 10 liters of milk per day, which is way above the production performance of the native of only about four liters, Bragas noted.

A female murrah buffalo can calve at three years of age and when crossbreed through AI with the Philippine carabao, he said, the first generation could be expected to be of quality animals that may also increase farmers’ income through milk production.

Bragas recalled that for the past several years, AI has been an effective tool of the DA in producing quality animals or in getting the desired genetic breed improvements.

The practice is used in crossbreeding animals and is widely and extensively used in carabao reproduction.

Since 2001 until 2012, Bragas said, a total of 1,293 calves have been produced by the DA in Bicol under this crossbreeding project that was also applied in the production of 7,362 caracows or the crossbreed of carabaos and cow through AI.

In Bula, Camarines Sur, particularly in Barangays Sto. Niño and Lubgan, about 25 calves were produced under this project and, according to Celestina Esteve, the municipal livestock coordinator, farmer-beneficiaries of the project have been enjoying better prices for their upgraded calves compared to the native.

Each head of an F1-native crossbreed calf, she said, fetches as much as P15,000 compared to the native that could only be sold at the highest bid price of livestock traders of P8,000.

This is because the genetically-improved animal is bigger, heavier and grows faster than the native carabaos, Esteve added.

“We are now aggressively pursuing this AI project to be able to produce more quality, sturdy and resistant breeds of carabao for the farmers,” Bragas said. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Poor Bicolanos pained by toll of over-fishing on favorite fish (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

MAGALLANES, Sorsogon, April 14 (PNA) – Pilchards, locally called “lawlaw,” which used to be the most abundant and affordable fish for poor Bicolanos, have been observed to be rapidly vanishing from the region’s fishing grounds.

The culprit, according to observers, is over-fishing.

Also known as sardine, pilchard -- an oily fish that can grow to around 10 inches in length and swim in large schools -- is believed to be a good source of protein, particularly by the average Bicol fisher folk, including lowly families in rural areas of the region.

In the past years until the middle of last year, tons of this fish species would be hauled from the waters of Ticao Pass and Burias Pass, two adjoining fishing grounds within the overlapping jurisdictions of the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon.

The bonanza then spilled out to Sorsogon Bay that the around 8,000 fisher folk here and seven other localities, including Sorsogon City, considered God sent.

“We earned good income from lawlaw during those heydays. About 20 truckloads of the fish could be hauled then from our fish port and that of the nearby Bulan town for delivery to some canning factories in Metro Manila or delivered to markets all over Bicol,” Edgar Homo, a fish dealer here, recalled in local dialect.

Fish for everyday consumption of local consumers was not also a problem because a kilo then could be bought for as low as Php10, he said.

But now, seldom that the fish can be found in the town market or anywhere around the province, Homo lamented.

“Even for our own consumption, we can longer catch and enjoy the mouth-watering taste of lawlaw,” claimed fisherman Michael Barrios, also of this town by the coastlines of Ticao Pass and Sorsogon Bay.

According to Greenpeace, Ticao Pass is representative of Bicol’s marine biodiversity at risk, given that despite of the presence of iconic species and eco-tourism wonders, it is situated side by side with poverty in coastal communities.

It also represents the totality of the region’s fishing grounds where destructive illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing are rampant -- resulting in a considerable decline of catch and fisheries species, it said.

Ticao Pass and Burias Pass, located on the eastern coast of Bicol, are considered as Bicol’s most productive and also listed as two of the country’s major fishing grounds.

Both have very high plankton concentrations brought by strong currents from San Bernardino Strait that attract iconic marine creatures such as manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads and thresher sharks, which feed on this marine organism.

Other fish species -- such as jacks, tuna, sardines and mackerel which are important to the local population for their daily protein needs -- are also endemic in these areas.

“When lawlaw was aplenty along our municipal waters, commercial fishing operations intrude our grounds, leaving very little fish catch for small-scale fisher folk like us. We can barely catch six kilos a day, the average haul that will give us a good day’s wage,” Barrios said.

Other modes of illegal fishing like the use of dynamites and trawl and pre-mature catching of lawlaw are also unchecked and the consequences of heavy damages are now being felt from the demolition of the population of lawlaw and other commercial species on these fishing grounds, he added.

Trawl fishing is a method of gathering huge numbers of fish and by-catch or unintended catches by dragging a giant net, sometimes up to the bottom of the sea, behind a ship.

In the nearby town of Donsol, Greenpeace said existing data have it that 32.5 percent of commercially important fish are over-fished.

The annual fish harvest of about 1,350 metric tons by the municipal fisheries sector is upset by the intrusion of commercial fishers that harvest about 12,000 metric tons of fish annually.

Municipal fisher folk along Ticao and Burias -- together with some concerned sectors both in the government and private sectors like the academe, civic groups and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources -- are active in protecting their municipal fishing grounds and have long been opposing the presence of illegal commercial fishing vessels in their waters.

Greenpeace is also working to support local fishing community to help put an end to destructive fishing and over-fishing by way of linking arm with local environmental conservation activists in a call for a stop to rampant illegal fishing activities that undermine marine-based development initiatives in the area.

Recognized as an independent global campaigning organization, Greenpeace has recently linked with some local non-government organizations in echoing its call for stakeholders’ change in attitudes and behavior to protect and conserve the environment.

The tie-up is particularly concerned over Ticao Pass, Burias Pass, Sorsogon Bay and San Bernardino Strait -- four of the many fishing grounds in Bicol that are considered heavily exploited owing to illegal fishing, especially by commercial vessels.

These destructive forms of fishing will certainly expand to adjacent grounds once illegal commercial fishing vessels are allowed to continue venturing into the seas of Bicol, according to Greenpeace Southeast Asia Ocean Campaigner Vince Cinches.

“Illegal commercial fishing activities in these areas are stealing the future of Bicol,” Cinches stressed, as he called on local authorities to initiate firm moves against it by way of determined law enforcement.

“While we recognize initiatives by different government units and agencies against illegal fishing in Bicol seas, we lament the qualitatively unchanged condition that resulted in high poverty incidence and a very degraded unproductive marine ecosystem in the area,” the group said.

If only the laws against illegal fishing are strictly enforced, then it will create a big difference towards the wish of Pres. Benigno Aquino III that stresses on the “need to rest our seas,” Cinches said.

The President’s primary concern is to make the fisheries sector sustainable through effective management of important biodiversity areas to replenish fish and ensure good catches for fishermen not only in Bicol but also in all the other regions of the country, he added. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Monday, April 14, 2014

Legazpi cops, regional operatives recover stolen motorcycle
By Connie Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, April 14 (PNA)—The local police recovered a motorcycle which was reported stolen from its owner about four months ago, a police report released over the weekend said. The Philippine National Police (PNP) Albay provincial office based at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here said the vehicle was intercepted by joint elements of the Legazpi City Police Office led by Senior Insp. Jan King Calipay and the Bicol police’s Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) led by Senior Insp. Steve Dela Rosa in a checkpoint at Barangay Baybay here.

Upon verification, the motorcycle, colored black and bearing license plate number EI 2314, was the same vehicle originally colored yellow and white which was reported by its owner Tiffany Celis to be stolen from its garage in Barangay Our Lady’s Village here on Dec. 22 last year, according to the report.

Its driver identified in the report as Randy Ortisio, 21, who claimed that the motorcycle was sold to him by somebody, was apprehended and charged for violation of Presidential Decree 1612 or the Anti-Fencing Law.

The court has recommended a bail of P30,000 for the temporary liberty of Ortisio who, as of this report, remains in the custody of the LCPO pending issuance of a jail commitment order from the same court, the report added.(PNA)

2 girls drown in Albay town resort

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, April 13 (PNA) -– Two girls, aged 8 and 10, drowned while swimming with their relatives at the Amater Spring Resort in Barangay Tanawan, Malinao, Albay, at about 10:45 a.m. Sunday.

In a report to Senior Supt. Marlo Meneses, Albay Provincial Police Office director, Senior Insp. Art Gomez, Malinao Municipal Police Office chief, identified the victims as Blessy Eunice Clapiz, 8 , and Elena Carlit, 10 – both residents of Purok 1, Barangay Santa Elena, Malinao -- who did not reach the Lianko Medical Hospital alive.

Gomez said the parents of the victims, Nessy Clapiz and Jocelyn Carlit, told them that while they were busy preparing food at their rented cottage just several meters from the swimming pool, they heard commotion, which they did not mind at first.

They later found out that their respective daughters were the victims, who had reportedly jumped into the deep part of the pool.

They rushed the victims to the hospital but the two young girls did not make it alive.

Police said their investigation showed that the resort has only one life guard on duty, Henry Capino, but he has no documents showing he has the proper training for a life guard.

The police also found out that the resort has no life-saving devices, has no markings or warnings in the pool area and has a municipal business permit that expired on Dec 13 , 2013. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/NOD

Masbate’s Rodeo Festival showcases local folk’s way of life, aspirations

MASBATE CITY, April 13 (PNA) -- The 21th Rodeo Masbateño Festival unsaddled on Saturday as it culminated five straight days of festivities showcasing the best breed of cattle in the country where the ranchers, cowboys, cowgirls, cowhands, stockmen and traders gathered for a cause: to bolster sports and agri-tourism here.

The event takes place every summer since 1993 in the province of Masbate, southeast of Manila and the “Cattle Capital of the Philippines.”

The highlight of the Rodeo was a display by local cowboys and cowgirls of their muscles and brains, dexterity, and correct and safe techniques in handling cattle.

Rodeo portrays the Filipino way of life as well as the daring and persevering character of the Masbateños as local cowboys and cowgirls compete in western-style rodeo events like bull riding, wrestling, lassoing and handling where men and women are dressed in cowboy outfits to perform the feats.

The thrilling show of skills involves several categories such as those for school men, school women, professional men and professional women contests.

These events draw people from the other parts of the Philippines and around the world as international cowboys and bull riders also participate in the competitions.

Also included in the events are a fair and exhibitions and trade of cattle and horses.

Apart from portraying the way of life and daring attitude of local cattle folk, the annual Rodeo festival here is pursuing to reinvigorate the dying cattle industry here as majority of the children of the ranchers opt to work in the big cities than to follow the footsteps of their parents, said Judge Manuel Sese, non-government organization Rodeo Masbateno Inc. president.

Through this annual event, cattle ranchers, horse breeders and feedlot operators showcase their best products as the ranchers breed the best and prepare for the show annually here.

Culturally rooted in the island province of Masbate where cattle are abundant, the Rodeo Masbateño is a day-to-day ranch practice that has been turned into a display of games and fun.

“The purpose of Rodeo festivity is to showcase around the country our livestock and tourism industry. Though before it was politically laden as it was run by politicians, forgetting that the RMI is a corporation, this is our own way of honoring farmers not only the ranchers but also the cowhands -- our devout partners in the farms,” Sese said.

In September 2, 2002, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared the island province of Masbate as the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.

The annual Rodeo festivity was organized in 1993 by local ranchers and businessmen through the initiative of former governor Emilio R. Espinosa, Jr. with the aim of promoting the age-old cattle industry of the province, having once led in its production.

Eventually, Rodeo turned into an avenue for promoting local tourism.

Today, under the leadership of Sese, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 49, the festival aims to bring back the glory of Masbate as the number one cattle producer in the country.

“We are also encouraging the children of the ranchers to love the farm. It is also our desire to unite the Masbateños as our politics become divisive. Under our leadership the RMI members, irrespective of their political affiliations, work together to bolster our quest for development and promote sports and tourism,” Sese said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/PJN

1 dead, 3 seriously hurt in CamSur motorcycle accident

LEGAZPI CITY, April 12 (PNA) -- A housewife died and three others were seriously injured when the tire of the motorcycle they were riding on blew along the road in Zone 1, Barangay Kinalansan, San Jose, Camarines Sur, on Friday afternoon.

A police report identified the victim who did not reach the Partido District Hospital alive as Rosalinda Delos Santos, 50 and married.

Seriously injured and being treated in the same hospital are Delos Santos’ son, Joseph, 26, married; Daryl Pesimo, 19, single; and eight-year-old Marjorie Molina -- all residents of Zone 7, Barangay Lidong, Presentacion, Camarines Sur.

The report said the accident occurred at about 4:20 p.m. when the tire of the motorcycle driven by Joseph blew, causing him to lose control of the vehicle which subsequently overturned.

Responding residents immediately brought the victims to the hospital but Delos Santos failed to make it alive.

The report said the victims were going to Barangay Sabang to attend a fellowship of El Shaddai religious group where they belong. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

Bicol media seek fast solution to killing of lady journalist in Cavite

LEGAZPI CITY, April 12 (PNA) –- Six days since the killing of Remate tabloid news reporter Robelita “Rubie” T. Garcia, Bicol media practitioners are asking law enforcers to fast track the solution of the case as they condemned the murder of the lady journalist in her home in Bacoor City in Cavite province.

“We welcome the information that Senior Supt. Joselito Esquivel has given ‘Task Force Tugis’ 72 hours to arrest the perpetrator and his accomplice in the murder of Garcia,” said Mar Arguelles, Albay-Legazpi Press Association vice president.

Esquivel, the Cavite Provincial Police Office director, has formed a tracker team composed of 200 police officers.

“Our country is indeed not safe anymore for working media personalities,” said Dondi Bilason, president of the Police Regional Office 5 Press Corps.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has said that 24 media practitioners have been murdered under President Aquino's administration, the latest victim was Garcia who was murdered inside her residence in Cavite on April 6.

“And to think the latest victim is a lady journalist and a mother,” said Bicol University Prof. Cet Dematera of Philippine Star.

The Bicol Correspondents League (Bicol), Bicol Reporters Association for Development (BRAD), ALPA and the PRO5 Press Corps said that with the average of six journalists killed every year during the past four years, something must be wrong in the peace and order situation in the country.

Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said he could not fathom why journalists who merely report the news should be murdered.

Salceda is considered as the poster parent of media in Albay, having provided support to local broadcasters as his partners in promoting the many programs of his administration, among them the P700-million scholarship program and climate change adaptation initiatives.

Despite the risks facing media members, especially those with the guts and the nerve to expose wrongdoings in the government, more journalists are only challenged to face them, said BRAD president Salvador Flor.

According to Manuel “Manny” Ugalde of The Manila Times, who is the executive vice president of BICOL, a journalist worth his salt is not counting or thinking about the casualties and risks in the media practice but how he can provide and satisfy the public with a truthful news -- good and bad.

Ugalde was himself a victim of an aborted murder attempt when while driving his owner-type jeepney in Legazpi one early evening in 1992 to meet a fellow Manila Times reporter from Manila, two motorcycle-riding persons fired at him but failed to hit him.

Officials of the four local media organizations urged all media members in the region to show individual indignation against media killings and spare a few minutes to pray that Garcia’s killing will hopefully be the last. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/utb

Catanduanes eyes bridge to connect island province to Bicol mainland
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 11 (PNA) –- No objection has been raised so far against the plan of building a bridge that is about five times longer than San Juanico Bridge to connect the island province of Catanduanes to the Bicol mainland.

The plan was recently hatched by the present leadership of the provincial government.

While San Juanico Bridge, which links Samar and Leyte, is only 2.16 kilometers and considered today as the longest bridge in the country, the ambitious Catanduanes project is a 10.8-kilometer concrete structure to be called the Friendship-Tourism Bridge.

It would connect the island to Caramoan, Camarines Sur, crossing over Maqueda Channel, the narrowest body of water that separates Catanduanes from the Bicol mainland.

And while San Juanico Bridge, which was designed by Japanese engineers and constructed for $ 21.9 million by the Marcos administration from 1969 to 1973, the proposal for the Catanduanes bridge carried no cost estimate and time table.

The plan was recently presented to the provincial legislative board and later to the local media by Governor Araceli Wong.

In a statement reaching here Friday, Wong said the project is seen to spur the economic development of the island -- citing as one benefit the making way for power cables of the Luzon grid, ending the energy shortage confronting the province.

Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the province’s lone congressional district, in a separate statement, described the proposed 10.8-kilometer bridge as a good project worthy of support.

He, however, cautioned that the proposal has to be carefully studied and supported by documents, especially on how it would be financed and how long it would take to complete.(PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/cbd/

CSC awards DSWD-Bicol, 19 others for excellence

LEGAZPI CITY, April 11 (PNA) -- The Civil Service Commission Regional Office 5 has awarded the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 5 with a Certificate of Revalidation (Level II- Accredited Status).

The award is in recognition of the DSWD field office’s having continuously met the requirements for Level II-Accredited Status, CSC Regional Director Cecilia Nieto said on Friday.

It is pursuant to CSC Resolution No 1301682, which provides for taking final action on its appointments under the program to institutionalize Meritocracy and Excellence in Human Resource Management, Nieto added.

DSWD Regional Director Arnel P. Garcia received the award from the CSC regional director on April 8 at the CSC office in Barangay Arimbay here.

Lorna Rebanal, DSWD-5 administrative officer V and head of the Human Resource Development, also received a certificate of appreciation from Nieto in recognition of her devotion and dedication to duty which significantly contributed to the successful revalidation of the DSWD Field Office 5 as Level II- Accredited Status.

About 20 institutions, state universities and colleges, local government units and national government agencies got the same recognition.

Part of the awarding ceremony was the signing of a memorandum of commitment and the recitation of the Pledge of Commitment by all the agency representatives.

The CSC also encouraged the agencies to aspire to qualify for Level III- Deregulated status by initiating innovations/enhancements to eventually qualify for the Center for Excellence/Seal of Excellence, a recognition it gives to deserving entities. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/jsd