PIA News Service - Thursday, July 30, 2009

Caraga coops show resiliency amidst crisis

BUTUAN CITY (July 30) – Caraga cooperatives show resiliency amidst the present economic crisis and even has higher survivability rate compared to business name registration. This is revealed during the press conference at the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) regional office, here, in this city, recently.

Director Manuela Pelaez of CDA Caraga disclosed that as of June 2009, the registered cooperatives in the region are 2,792 but only 1,198 are operating, others are non-operating, dissolved or cancelled. The figure translates to 42.9 percent survivability of the cooperatives.
“As of June 2009, we have 2,792 registered coops but only 1,198 are operating, others are non-operating, dissolved or cancelled,” relates Director Pelaez.

Director Brielgo Pagaran of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) added that the figure is considerably higher than that of the business name registration of DTI.

“…that figure is higher compared to our business name registration. Usually after five years, very few, probably less than 40 percent of the registered business names renew,” bared Director Pagaran.

It was learned during the press conference that despite the present economic crisis there are still windows of opportunity that exporters and cooperatives could exploit.

Ms. Leonor Calo, Chairperson of PhilExport Caraga said that despite the present crisis, Filipino products continue to attract foreign buyers, boasting that there are plenty of new and emerging products in the region that could well make it to the international market.

“We have plenty of new and emerging products that have export quality. I encourage the cooperatives to attend trainings to improve their products because it does have potentials,” enthused Mrs. Calo.

Director Manuela Pelaez opens up that she hopes to see Caraga as the center or the heart of the furniture industry in the country.

“Considering that Caraga is a timber region, I hope one day that the region we’ll become the heart of the furniture industry in the country,” says Director Pelaez.

Director Pelaez relates that the furniture association is one of the strongest cooperative in the region and has in fact just recently won a P2.9 million bid for classroom armchairs at DepEd Caraga. She stressed that if the furniture coop could sustain, this could be a wonderful beginning for the furniture industry in the region.

The press conference is conducted in line with the celebration of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) month celebration. Cooperatives are considered one of the many composite sectors of MSME.

“In a spirit of solidarity in the celebration of the MSMED month, we have conducted this press conference, considering the fact that cooperative is one of the composite sectors of MSME,” says Director Pelaez. (Lovely Laudette Gamba, PIA-Caraga)


LGU Butuan and Bureau of Fire Protection conducted 1st Fire & Rescue Olympics

BUTUAN CITY (July 30) – 34 fire brigade volunteers grouped into 5 from 12 urban barangays compete in fire containment techniques namely: fire hose relay, fire fighting apparel fire hose relay, fire fighting apparel fire hose relay with busted hose replacement, rescue event, and bucket suppression event.

The Firelympics tests the readiness of newly graduates fire brigade volunteers under the Deputized Out of School Youth-Community Auxiliary Response Emergency Scouts or DOY CARES who went rigorous training last month and now become part of the city government’s Deputized DSART Patrol, an emergency unit tasked to respond to any emergencies and calamities.

“These men and women are trained to safeguard their homes during a fire until the fire services from the BFP arrive. As first responders in the barangay, these volunteers are equipped with the basic knowledge in preventing fires from spreading and help the Bureau of Fire Protection in educating members of the community ways to prevent fire,” said SFO2 Bomel Lofranco of the City Fire Department.

Fire fighting suppression techniques are well executed by Firelympic competitors and were assessed by their performance to show good signs that they are ready to face any eventualities in their respective barangays.

In the coming months, the city government and the BFP will replicate DOY CARES to cover the 86 barangays as part of its initiatives that enhance community safety citing the invaluable role these volunteer teams can take in property protection and save lives.

The 1st Fire and Rescue Olympics is an undertaking by the City Disaster Coordinating Council in coordination with the City’s Bureau of Fire Protection. (Jocelyn Morano, Radyo ng Bayan Butuan/ PIA-Caraga)


PIA MEDIA RELEASE


PGMA’s 9th SONA draws praises from whole nation – Palace

MANILA – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ninth State-of-the- Nation Address (SONA) which she delivered at a joint session of Congress on Monday elicited praises from the whole Filipino nation, Malacañang said today.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde told a press briefing at Malacanang's New Executive Building (NEB) that the President delivered a memorable SONA that highlighted her achievements in keeping a strong economy, improving education and other social services as well as building modern infrastructure facilities nationwide.

Remonde was joined in the media briefing by local government unit (LGU) officials, including governors from 13 provinces.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo, in a separate interview with the Philippines News Agency (PNA), also noted that President Arroyo had a wonderful report to the nation.

“All her detractors were proven wrong as the Chief Executive outlined her economic recovery programs and accomplishments in the SONA. She’s very sincere in her commitments and this was really proven by those whom the President has helped,” Fajardo said.

For his part, Remonde noted in the media briefing that the President delivered a really memorable report to the Filipino people.

“It is one that served as her report card for the year just past, a call to legislative action for the year ahead, a fitting valedictory as she prepares to leave office, and a restatement of the vision and mission she will bequeath to her future successor," the Press Secretary stressed.

“It was also a stinging rebuke to the critics and oppositionists who have been hounding her of late, hoping to make political capital out of her refusal to take the low road which they themselves find so congenial for their own ambitions,” Remonde said in his opening statement.

“And yet to judge from their expressions of indignation at her remarks about them, or their incredulity at her achievements despite all the facts she mustered, one wonders if her critics were in fact watching the same speech as the rest of the country,” the Press Secretary added.

“Or if they were even listening to any thing else other than the own exhausting expostulations.

No matter: history will be a kinder -- not to mention much more objective, responsible, and credible -- judge of the President's legacy than that crowd of wanna-bee's,” he said.

“The facts are crystal clear -- under this president: years of uninterrupted growth, redemption of our country from the global recession, short-term relief and long-term hope for the poor, international respectability and political stability, and a scrupulous compliance with the law, up to and including her intended departure from office next year,” Remonde said.

He concluded by saying: “Yesterday was a moment that made all of us in her official family, in her administration, proud to be one with her in serving our people.”

The LGU leaders present were Governors Loreto Leo Ocampos of Misamis Occidental, Sally Perez of Antique, Josephine Sato of Occidental Mindoro, Maximo Dalog of Mt. Province, Geraldine Ecleo of Dinagat Island, Jose Antonio Carreon of Marinduque, Joseph Cua of Catanduanes, Jun Akbar of Basilan, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Abdusakur Tan of Sulu, Natalio Beltran III of Romblon, Dax Cua of Quirino, and Rodolfo del Rosario of Davao del Norte.

All the governors present asked all Filipinos to give the President a chance to do her duties to the nation. “Please understand what the Chief Executive is doing. She has done a lot for our provinces,” the LGU leaders chorused.

They also cited the SONA infrastructure gains such building of bridges, farm-to-market roads, school buildings, housing projects and public markets. The governors also thanked the President for the implementation of the Cheaper Medicines law.

Meanwhile, educators continued to hail President Arroyo for helping the education sector by building many school buildings and helping out in the Education for All (EFA) projects of the government. ”

The President painted the country as a prosperous nation. Most of her achievements were overshadowed by corruption in the last nine years. I hope in the last years of her Presidency, she will focus in fighting corruption,” says Prof. Serafin Arviola of Philippine Normal University (PNU).

“I look forward to 2010 when we will decide on a new president again,” said Prof. Barry Barrientos of the University of the Philippines- Manila.

On the other hand, the Philippine National Association of School Securities Organization (PHILNASSO) said "President Arroyo is very sincere on her efforts for more global education high standard so that our graduates will be competitive worldwide professionals.” (PNA)


Palace, LGU executives to PGMA’s critics: Move forward, move on

MANILA – Malacañang and local government unit (LGU) executives reacted sharply this afternoon against the critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by saying: “Help the country move forward. Please move on.”

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde and provincial governors coming from Northern Luzon down to the Visayas and Mindanao issued the statement during today’s press briefing at Malacanang's New Executive Building (NEB).

They lashed out at the opposition leaders and other critics of the government for failing or just refusing to recognize the various accomplishments of the Arroyo administration, especially in the economy and building infrastructure like roads, bridges and airports, among other facilities.

Remonde and the LGU officials also reiterated a part of President Arroyo’s 9th State-of-the- Nation Address (SONA) wherein she got back at her critics by breaking her silence on a number of issues raised against her.

“The President said in her SONA she has never expressed the desire to extend herself beyond her term. Many of those who accuse the President tried to cling like nails to their posts,” Remonde said.

The Press Secretary also said the President noted that those who accuse her of misgovernance actually left her with the problem of misgovernance to solve.

“The Chief Executive turned around the ailing economy successfully,” he said.

The LGU leaders present in the media briefing were Governors Loreto Leo Ocampos of Misamis Occidental, Sally Perez of Antique, Josephine Sato of Occidental Mindoro, Maximo Dalog of Mt. Province, Geraldine Ecleo of Dinagat Island, Jose Antonio Carreon of Marinduque, Joseph Cua of Catanduanes, Jun Akbar of Basilan, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Abdusakur Tan of Sulu, Natalio Beltran III of Romblon, Dax Cua of Quirino, and Rodolfo del Rosario of Davao del Norte.

All the governors present asked the Filipino people to give the President a chance to do her duties to the nation.

“Please understand what the Chief Executive is doing. She has a done a lot for our provinces,” the LGU leaders chorused.

Saying President Arroyo has been falsely accused without proof of using her position for personal profit, Remonde stressed: "It is actually the Chief Executive’s accusers who have lifestyles and spending habits that make them walking proofs of that crime.” (PNA)


PGMA issues EO 821 for maximum drug retail price

MANILA – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has signed Executive Order 821 that prescribes a maximum drug retail price for selected drugs and medicines, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said today.

In EO 821, President Arroyo said that the access to affordable medicines for diseases that account for the leading causes of morbidity was critical to improve the health and productivity of Filipinos, prevent impoverishment of families due to high cost of health care and thereby achieve the Millennium Development Goals and National Objectives for Health.

Remonde said that President Arroyo gave Health Secretary Francisco Duque III the power to impose a maximum retail price over any or all drugs and medicines as enumerated and provided within the law.

The Department of Health (DoH) was also ordered to put in place all the necessary policies and systems to fully implement the EO while the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) should act on any application for registration of drugs and medicines within 15 days.

At today's news briefing, Remonde also said Malacanang has opened its doors to amendments to the Cheaper Medicine Act.

“We will wait for the draft of the proposed amendments for the Republic Act 9502, or known as the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008,” said Remonde.

In another development, Duque said the hunger incidence in the Philippines decreased from 23 percent in the last quarter of 2008 to 15 percent today, through the initiative and intervention of President Arroyo.

Duque said that President Arroyo increased the budget of the Department of Health twice which did not happen in previous administrations.

He said that part of the accomplishments of Mrs. Arroyo was the hike in PhilHealth’s coverage, saying that about 86 percent of the country’s population was now covered as compared to 36 percent before the Chief Executive’s term.

The Arroyo administration, he said, was doing its best to bring primary services such as health and nutrition to millions of Filipinos.

Assistant Secretary Ma. Bernardita Flores of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) also noted that without the intervention of President Arroyo, the Philippines might have a hard time meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets.

Duque cited the establishment of thousands of Botika Ng Barangay under President Arroyo’s watch where prices of medicines were sold at, lower rates to benefit the poor and the marginalized sector of society.

The other vital accomplishment of President Arroyo was the pharmaceutical companies’ voluntary reduction of prices in 16 essential medicines. (PNA)


History a kinder judge of President's legacy – Remonde

MANILA - Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said today history will be a kinder, more objective judge to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo' s legacy when she leaves office next year. In a press briefing this morning, Remonde said the “acts are clear that the President has steered the country to progress,” a truth, he said, her critics refuse to recognize.

“And yet to judge from their expressions of indignation at her remarks about them, or their incredulity at her achievements despite all the facts she mustered, one wonders if her critics were, in fact, watching the same speech as the rest of the country,” the Press Secretary said.

“No matter: history will be a kinder, not to mention much more objective, responsible, and credible judge of the President’s legacy.”

Remonde said under the leadership of President Arroyo, the economy posted uninterrupted growth for 33 quarters compared to 2001 when she took over a country on the brink of bankruptcy, a strong and resilient economy that redeemed the country from the global recession.

He described the President’s ninth SONA as one that made him and all of her cabinet members” proud to be one with her in serving our people.”

“The President yesterday delivered a memorable SONA—one that served as her report card for the year just past, a call to legislative action for the year ahead, a fitting valedictory as she prepares to leave office, and a restatement of the vision and mission she will bequeath to her future successor,” he said. (PNA)


Roque: Labor status in SONA accurate

MANILA - Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said local employment gains posted over 8 million in the past nine years as presented by President Gloria Arroyo during her 9th State of the Nation Address (SONA) are accurate and based on actual national statistics.

Roque made the clarification in response to unfair criticisms and reports questioning the veracity of the figure attributed to the DOLE.

Roque made it clear that the cumulative gains in employment from 2001 to 2009, which has total of 8.095 million, are based on the annual average rate as reflected meticulously and consistently by the National Statistic Office (NSO), a major agency of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

However, he stressed that while the gains in the country’s employment are not DOLE-generated results, the NEDA-NSO’s periodic Labor Force Survey (LFS) is an international standard-based measure or indicator that provides an accurate picture of the country’s employment situation.

“Indeed, its veracity is affirmed by the time-honored acceptance of the NSO survey as the main and most authoritative source of employment data obtaining in the Philippines among the major sectors and stakeholders, whether it be among labor, management and employers or the private sector, the government itself, the academe, international investors and institutions, and others.”

He contended that the 8.095 million jobs generated under the Arroyo administration since 2001 were not just mere figures but derived from the annual average of four LFS being conducted by the NSO in January, April, July and October of every year.

“As far as I remember since the 1980s, what the NSO does is that it gets the average of the four quarter surveys, once every quarter, and that is what you call the employment generation data for the year,” Roque noted. “And since the past administrations I have seen, it has consistently been the source of our employment data.”

Based on NSO data, the annual average of employment created from 2001 to 2008 are: 1.704 million in 2001; 906,000 in 2002; 573,000 in 2003; 978,000 in 2004; 700,000 in 2005; 323,000 in 2006; 924,000 in 2007; and 1.458 million for the first two quarters of 2009.

“These figures are based on the surveys which cover 51,000 households, so far the biggest survey sample that’s being taken by any organization,” Roque said. He added that the employment increment registered during most of the current decade amounts to a plus or positive factor that has made the country resilient and able to withstand the onslaught and the worst effects of the global financial crisis that debilitated other economies worldwide.

Last Monday, President Arroyo cited these employment gains, underscoring the utmost importance of concerted efforts in employment generation, creation and facilitation of government and all sectors.

The President’s speech also positively dwelt upon positive aspects related directly to the strengthening of employment in the country, including provisions of microfinance for the informal sector workers, interventions to protect and assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) against displacement, gains in technical vocational education or the training and provision of productive skills to workers, and the vitality of the country’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry which is a vibrant contributor to Filipino workers’ employment. (PNA)


House ratifies bicam report on CARP extension

MANILA - The House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon ratified the report of the bicameral conference committee extending the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Under the bicameral report, both the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed for the extension of the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of CARP for five years retroactive to July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of House Bill 4077, said funding support for CARP during the extended period will be at least P150 billion. Under the approved bicameral report, conversion of irrigated and irrigable lands is prohibited in order to enhance food supply and security in the country.

It also stopped the voluntary land transfer (VLT) scheme component of CARP, which, according to lawmakers, has been documented to have been used for "simulated" and "flawed" coverage.

Effective July 1, 2009, the only modes for acquisition of the remaining private agricultural lands are compulsory acquisition and voluntary offer to sell (VOS), said Lagman.

The bicameral conference committee also approved the inclusion of "seasonal" farmers as agrarian reform beneficiaries in the extended implementation of CARP.

Members of the bicameral committee said that seasonal farmers could be considered as CARP beneficiaries but as last priority and/or provided the farmer beneficiary "waived" his/her right to own land.

In her state-of-the- nation-address last Monday, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called on both Houses of Congress to pass the CARP extension bill. (PNA)