PIA News Service - Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009

Negrenses now open to both organic agriculture and biotechnology

by Jenny A. Panopio

“Teamwork for organic agriculture and biotechnology must be tapped in order to achieve the quest for higher agricultural production and sustainable environment”, says Tanjay City Agriculturist Boy Diputado during the ASFARNET Philippines-led Agricultural Forum: Understanding Agri-biotechnology and its Benefits, held last Oct 22 at Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. He added that based on his understanding, both agricultural practices could provide higher yield and safer and healthier food for both the public and the environment. He believes that both interventions can positively impact farmers and consumers, as well as enrich biodiversity in the island. 

Similarly, Provincial Corn Coordinator of Negros Oriental, Mr. Medardo Villalon, believes that all agricultural opportunities must be provided to the farmers in the island in order for them to meet diverse market potentials. He added that a careful combination of organic agriculture and biotechnology will be perfect for subsistence farmers and market-oriented farmers in Negros’ agricultural industry. 

Meanwhile, Chemin Teves, a farmer from the island saw biotechnology as an opportunity to increase farming income and reduce agricultural inputs. Based on his 3-year experience in planting Bt corn, he was able to increase yield as much as 6 tons compared with the conventional corn. Currently, he is also trying the herbicide tolerant corn and is optimistic of saving his capital and getting more profit from using these biotech seeds.

ASFARNET Philippines, a coalition of farmer-leaders in the country, continuously undertake a sustained farmer-driven education campaign in order to enhance biotechnology understanding and sharing and exchange of farmer experiences in biotech adoption. 

For more information on biotechnology updates in the Philippines, visit www.bic.searca.org or email bic@agri.searca.org.
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How Philippines mountain slopes were converted into rich but corn fields 

by Vivek Deshpande 

The gentle mountain slopes in this fascinatingly beautiful place at once catch the attention not merely for their idyllic setting and extremely hospitable people that reside in their lush green shadows but also for a revolutionary trend in the agriculture they now practice along these inclines.

As one winds through the serene terrains of Cagayan valley in northern Philippines, none can escape the hypnotising effect of the slopes covered with rows of standing corn crops. The Philippines government has left no stone unturned to ensure that the corn farmers produce more, for their own self and for the country whose economy's mainstay is agriculture. The country, with over nine crore people to feed, has only small-scale local industries and no big manufacturing units worth the name. 

Like the capital Manila, swanky malls and super shops can be found dotting the roadside market lines in most small towns that house rows of shanties amidst rich mansion, but the products sold here come from outside. And so, Philippines was quick to adopt biotechnology to boost its economy. Besides Bt Corn, the country has cleared Bt Cotton, maize, potato, soyabean, Argentine canola and sugar beet for use.

Authorities claim that introduction of Bt Corn in the province, that also produces rice like most other parts of the 7,000-odd islands' archipelago, has led to the production rising by four tonnes per hectare to 12 tonnes per hectare in less than five years, increasing their incomes from a meager 10,000 Pesos (Philippines currency) to 30 to 40,000 Pesos annually. Across Philippines, Bt Corn is now sowed on over 4 lakh hectares.

"I am thankful to biotech corn. I yield 5,750 kg in my half hectare and earn about 57,000 Pesos out of it," says Hermoso Juan from Diduyon village. "I was able to start swine production in my backyard and am generating additional income from it too," he adds.

Wilson Payahna, too, talks of the rich harvest he has reaped ever since he switched from the conventional white corn variety that succumbs easily to the deadly corn borer pest to Bt Corn. Farmers here use the "herbicide tolerant" Dekalb 9132 Bt hybrid developed by Monsanto.

In the past five years, the government has helped hasten the process with whatever it could do. Apart from its National Committee on Bio-safety working overtime to test the product for its safety, the government quickly handed ownership certificates to the local tribal farmers who now legally own the mountain slopes, akin to the process India has undertaken under the Tribal Act. Using weedicides, the grassland slopes were converted into regular crop fields and the way was paved for Bt Corn.

"Being something that's eaten, unlike Bt Cotton, Bt Corn required thorough testing. Only after it was found safe, was it released for use," says Saturnina Halosa, Chairperson of Biotechnology Advisory Team of the Department of Agriculture. "Human body doesn't have receptor cells for the Bt toxin and hence, it is safe to consume," she adds. After corn, Philippines is set to introduce a biotech rice variety called golden rice.
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DA optimistic GMO confab to impact on Negros ordinance

by George M. De La Cruz

DR. Alicia Ilaga, director of the Department of Agriculture Biotech Program Implementation Unit, hopes that Melbourne, Australia's conference "will be an input to the current deliberation of the Provincial Board in Negros Occidental on Ordinance 007 series 2007."

The ordinance bans the entry and market of genetically modified or engineered agricultural products into Negros Occidental.

The conference, set Nov. 10-12, "is of particular relevance to the Philippines as it commits to use all available farming technologies - conventional, biotechnology and organic - as options to improve the agriculture sector," she said.

Slated to attend the conference are Board Members Enrique Miguel Lacson, who chairs the committee on food security and natural disasters & calamities; Nehemias Dela Cruz Sr., chair on livelihood & rural development and committee on energy, and lawyer Edgardo Acuña, chair on tourism and laws, ordinance & good government.

The international conference is on the coexistence between genetically modified (GM) and non-GM crops.

The GMCC '09 conference will bring together the scientific community working on coexistence between GM and non-GM agricultural supply chains, the DA said, adding that the event will cover key issues from production level to the market place or "from paddock to plate."

Key issues will include strategies for coexistence and organizational measures across the supply chain, socio-economics of coexistence and many others as well as highlighting the progress of the Australian approach in the coexistence of GM canola, DA said. 
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Rice science, a must to cope with climate change 

by Ramon Efren R. Lazaro / Correspondent 

PHILRICE, Nueva Ecija—As the country reels from the devastation brought about by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, experts blame climate change.

Rice experts from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) explain that climate change is now upon us. We need not wonder why our weather is very erratic.

PhilRice experts claim that intense heat is a manifestation of climate change. Heat affects humans, animals and crops alike, especially rice.

Studies and crop-simulation models show that rice yield is expected to decrease by 10 percent to 15 percent for every 1°C increase in temperature. Heat stress is not good for the rice plant because it reduces tillering, height, number of grains and grain filling, which eventually lead to reduced yields, they added.

The Department of Agriculture-PhilRice and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) are into breeding drought-, saline-prone and submergence-tolerant rice varieties.

Heat-tolerant rice breeders are identifying possible parents from Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia rice varieties. These countries have rice varieties that can thrive under high temperatures. From the best of these varieties, heat-tolerance traits will be transferred into popular local varieties.

Submergence breeding efforts have resulted in NSIC Rc194 (Submarino I), which can survive up to 10 days of submergence in water during its vegetative stage.

Varieties Rc 182, 184, 186, 188 and 190 are saline-tolerant. Rc192 is drought-tolerant.

Seeds of these climate change-adapted varieties are being multiplied for massive use by 2010.

The controlled irrigation (CI) technology that saves water in irrigated rice farms is now being promoted. Some 16-percent to 35-percent reduction in water use is possible through CI without significantly reducing grain yield.

Research studies on varieties that require less water are also in the pipeline. CI also saves on labor and input costs, and reduces methane emission.

State-of-the-art technologies like geographic information system and remote sensing also help identify and map vulnerable areas like drought-prone areas in the country. Studies like these are good inputs in recommending crops that can be planted in specific areas to optimize land use.

The use of information and communications technology can be incorporated as a tool to bridge the knowledge gap between farmers and climate-change adaptation and mitigation measures.

Rice emits methane, a greenhouse gas. Earlier research by DA-PhilRice, in collaboration with IRRI, identified ways to lessen methane emission in the rice field.

These include use of ammonium sulfate as nitrogen fertilizer in place of urea; use of phosphogypsum when applied in combination with urea fertilizer; midseason drainage; and direct seeding instead of transplanting.

The use of the leaf color chart also lessens the use of nitrogen fertilizer, one source of nitrous oxide greenhouse gas.

Being a diversified integrated rice-based farming system, Palayamanan reduces production risks brought about by climate change.

It reduces the use of chemical fertilizers through its biomass resource-recovery component. It increases or enhances sinks of CO2 through cropping intensity, planting of fruit trees and establishment of a miniforest.

It is also a location-specific system that depends on the environment, like weather and soil characteristics.

Because the effects of climate change are location-specific, this program is one good approach in mitigating climate change. National technology recommendations can now be downscaled to regions, provinces, municipalities, or even barangays and be based on existing soil conditions, weather patterns and climate trends of a certain contiguous area.

Likewise, proposals for adaptation and impact mitigation of climate change are works in progress. Present technologies will be reviewed to come up with a holistic approach on how to cushion the effects of climate change. The use of weather and climate information to safeguard and maximize yield will be encouraged.

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POLICE REPORTS
By PO3 Arturo Suganob Campania; PO2 Darlin Cabalinan-Migullas; PO3 Philip Amer Posas Mazo

Report on loose firearm 

On October 28, 20009 at 3:20 in the afternoon, one Marciano N Estrada, of legal age and resident of Purok-4, Barangay De Oro, Butuan City voluntarily surrendered his firearm CAL .38 revolver with defaced serial number to PSINSP Estelito L German of Butuan City Police Station 4. 

On October 29, 2009 at 10:30 in the morning at Barangay Urduja, Butuan City, PNP members of Butuan City Police Office led by PSINSP Reynante N Sibayton conducted operation which resulted to the voluntary surrender of one unit cal .38 revolver without serial number loaded with five live ammunition by one alias Eddie, of legal age, married and resident of said place. Said firearm is now under the custody of BCPO for proper disposition. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)

Report on loose firearm deposited at the drop box 

Following Firearms were retrieved PNP personnel from their Drop Box for Unwanted Firearm thru their continuous campaign to the community: 
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On October 26, 2009 at 9:00 in the morning, two units Homemade shotgun without serial number were retrieved by PNP elements of San Benito Municipal Police Station from their firearm Deposit Drop Box. 

Also, one unit homemade shotgun with defaced serial number was retrieved by PNP elements of San Francisco Municipal Police Station from their firearm deposit drop box while two unit of homemade shotgun without serial number were retrieved by PNP elements of Gigaquit Municipal Police Station from their firearm deposit box. 

At 11:00 in the morning, one unit cal .45 revolver without serial number was retrieved by PNP elements of Alegria Municipal Policce Station from their Firearm Deposit Box. 

On October 27, 2009 at 9:00 in the morning, Six units homemade shotgun without serial number were retrieved by PNP elements of Sta Monica Municipal Police Station from their firearm deposit drop box. 

At 3:00 in the afternoon, one unit cal .38 revolver with defaced serial number and four units homemade shotgun were retrieved by PNP elements of Sta Monica Municipal Police Station from their firearm deposit drop box. 

Said firearms are now under the custody of respective Municipal Police Station for proper disposition. 

On October 29, 2009 at 8:30 in the morning, one unit cal .38 revolver without serial number was retrieved by PNP elements of Butuan City Police Station 1 from their firearm Deposit Drop Box. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)

PNP arrests wanted persons

On October 28, 2009 at 6:20 in the morning, one Arsenio Bautista, 78 years old, married and resident of said place was apprehended by PNP elements of Tandag Police Station. Apprehension took place at Barangay San Jose, Tandag, Surigao del Sur by virtue of warrant of arrest (WOA) issued by Hon Judge Merlyn B Pacaro-Cañedo of RTC Branch 40, Tandag, Surigao del Sur for the crime of qualified theft docketed under CC number 5491 with recommended bailbond amounting to Php 14,000.00. Arrested person now detained at Tandag Municipal Police Station for proper disposition. 

At 10:30 in the morning of the same date at Barangay Gamut, Tago, Surigao del Sur, PNP members of Tago Municipal Police Station led by PSINSP Nemesio B Espinoza apprehended one Perfecto Takuling, of legal age, widower, farmer and resident of said place by virtue of WOA dated March 25, 2009 issued by Hon Judge Vicente M Luna Jr of RTC Branch 40, Tandag, Surigao del Sur for the crime of frustrated murder docketed under CC number 5318 with recommended bailbond amounting to Php 200,000.00. Said person now deposited at Tago Municipal Police Station for proper disposition. 

Also, a certain Noel Pineda, 40 years old, married and resident of said place was apprehended by PNP members of Butuan City Police Station 1 led by SPO3 Alexander Morgadez by virtue of WOA dated October 28, 2009 issued by Hon Judge Augustus L Calo of RTC Branch 5, Butuan City charged for the crime of estafa docketed under CC nr 13696 with recommended bailbond amounting to Php 150,000.00. Subject person was subsequently turned over to the issuing court for proper disposition. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)

Report on rape 


On October 28, 2009 at 6:15 in the evening at Purok 2, Lopez Jaena Extension, Butuan City, Reaction Team of Butuan City Police Station 1 led by SPO2 Manghano apprehended a certain Mark Digs Magbaril, 19 years old, resident of said place for an offense of rape victimizing Leila ( not her real name), 17 years old, minor and resident of said place.

Said suspect was brought to BCPS1 and temporarily detained while case was prepared for filing in court in an inquest proceedings. Progress report to follow.
(PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)

Apprehension of suspects and recovery of stolen items 


PNP elements of Theft and Robbery Unit of Butuan City Police Office conducted follow-up operation of a reported theft incident that transpired at about October 29, 2009 at 12:30 in the morning at JC Aquino Avenue, Butuan City victimizing Japhet Floria, a media personality, 28 years old, single and resident of Purok-8, Barangay Ong yiu, Butuan City.

Items that allegedly taken from the victim were silver necklace, wallet containing cash money amounting to Php 500.00, assorted Press ID and ATM cards.

The operation resulted to the arrest of suspects identified as one Adrian Concon, 23 years old, single and resident of Era Subdivision, Butuan City and Brian Rosales, 26 years old, single and resident of Purok-Narra, Pangabugan, Butuan City.

Apprehended suspects were brought to BCPS for further investigation while case of theft now prepared for filing in court. Progress report to follow. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)

Report on shooting incident 

On October 31, 2009 around 7:00 in the evening at Poblacion, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, a fish vendor was shot by two unidentified suspects riding a red XRM motorcycle. Marlon Palma, 35 years old, married and a resident of Barangay Tina, town of San Miguel was shot several times to his body causing his death with caliber .45 pistol as evidenced of four fired cartridges recovered at the crime scene.

Victim was brought to San Miguel District Hospital by the responding policemen of San Miguel Municipal Police Station but was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending physician due to multiple gunshot wounds in his body. A SOCO team was dispatched at the crime scene and recovered the four cartridges and a live ammo for caliber .45 pistol. Perpetrators fled towards Brgy Caras-an town of Tago , Surigao del Sur. A follow-up investigation is still on going until this report. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)