PIA News Service - Sunday, April 4, 2010

2-day RP-Australia development forum set in Butuan City

BUTUAN CITY - A two-day Philippines-Australia development forum is scheduled to be held on April 15-16 in this capital city of the Caraga Region. 

It was learned on Wednesday that top representatives of the Australian government aid program will attend in line with their continuing commitment to the Philippine government's development program, particularly in the Caraga Region. 

According to its organizers, the two-day activity is dubbed as "Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP): Building Community Resilience, Sustaining Development" and forum on the environment, development and climate change. 

PACAP Director Lourdes M. Padilla and Communication Officer Ninosa Alipon said the forum will provide the avenue for PACAP partners to share lessons from their projects on environment and how these are contributing to the global effort in environment protection, governance, sustainable development and climate change adaptation. 

They said the forum also hopes to strengthen partnership among civil society organizations (CSOs), government, donors and other national environment networks and groups. 

Stakeholders from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PACAP partners such as national governmental organizations, people's organizations, and CSOs are participating in the forum. 

Another aim of the forum is to identify lessons and best practices and share these among partners to facilitate networking and partnership among CSOs, government, donors and other national environment networks and groups, and future financial assistance in the region, PACAP officials said. 

Currently, Surigao del Norte is a recipient of Australian government grant amounting to P77.129 million with 39 projects, while Agusan del Sur has P75.646 million with 34 projects. 

These projects are focused on the protection and governance of coastal marine ecosystems, watersheds, wetlands and ancestral domains, basic services and livelihood projects like potable water, watershed management, solid waste management, ecotourism, organic farming, sloping agriculture and contour farming. 

Projects under climate change involve clean energy, adaptation and disaster risk management. 

PACAP strategically implements its projects in the Caraga Region and other parts of the country through the Focal Community Assistance Scheme (FOCAS) engagement and nationally through Responsive Assistance Scheme (RAS) characterized by projects separate from each other but spread all over the country. 

The PACAP is a 23-year-old grant facility of the AusAID in the Philippines. It has financially supported more than 1,200 projects benefiting at least two million poor people through partnerships with more than 500 CSOs, primarily NGOs and POs. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


AFP, PNP tighten security measures for arrival of PCOS machines in Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Northern and Northeastern Mindanao (Regions 10 and 13) have tightened their security measures for the arrival next week of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for the May 10, 2010 national and local elections. 

Chief Supt. Lino D. Calingasan, regional director of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), said "tactical preparations to ensure the safe deployment of all PCOS machines at various areas in the two regions" have already been made in coordination with Chief Supt. Danilo T. Empedrad, PRO 10 regional director, Maj. Gen. Mario F. Chan, commanding general of the Army’s Fourth Infantry (Diamond) Division, and the Commission on Elections (Comelec). 

The PNP and the AFP said they are paying special attention to areas under "close watch" or "immediate concern" such as Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and some parts of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Sur. 

Government authorities have also mobilized their respective joint security coordinating center (JSCC) forces in the deployment of the PCOS machines. 

In Northeastern Mindanao, the PRO 13 has already mobilized at least 3,764 policemen to help ensure peaceful and orderly elections, Calingasan said. 

Meanwhile, Col. Leo Cresente Ferrer, commanding officer of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said a JSCC has been established at the Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, where election-related activities are being monitored. 

In a briefing Monday afternoon in Iligan City, retired Army Col. Valentine Ragpala, and provincial and city Smartmatic security coordinators said at least 624 PCOS machines will be deployed for the more than 700 voting centers in Lanao del Norte. 

Iligan City alone will have 173 PCOS machines for 46 voting centers in 44 barangays, it was learned. 

It was also learned that the PCOS machines will be stored upon arrival in Misamis Occidental and in Cagayan de Oro City. The deployment timetable will be from May 3 to 9. 

The AFP, PNP and Comelec said that among the closely-watched municipalities in Lanao del Norte are Tangcal, Maigo, Kolambugan, Pantao Ragat, Matungao and Kauswagan. 

In a related development, security measures have also been tightened around the Agus plants in Lanao provinces, where the Mindanao grid is located, to ensure uninterrupted power supply during the Election Day. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


Suspected NPA rebels in burning spree anew; torch logging truck in Surigao del Sur

BUTUAN CITY - Suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Caraga Region, who were reportedly in a burning spree, torched a-10 wheeler logging truck SADDAM-type bearing plate number NR 954 in Sitio San Miguel, Brgy Santa Juana, Tagbina, Surigao del Sur Tuesday afternoon. 

Report from Caraga Police Regional Office claimed the logging truck driven by Marcos Armada was flagged down by armed rebels in Barangay Sta. Juana road, led by alias Ka Friday of FC-14 NEMRC, and forcibly brought at remote Sitio San Miguel, Barangay Santa Juana, Tagbina, Surigao del Sur. 

The driver, a resident of Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, was safely released by the suspects. He was accompanied by owner of the logging truck, a certain Ruben Sarihana Buag of Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, to report the incident to Tagbina, Surigao del Sur Municipal Police Station. 

Philippine National Police (PNP) operatives from Tagbina Police in coordination with the 1st platoon of Provincial Police Public Safety Management Company and 58th Infantry Battalion, Phil. Army were now conducting follow-up operation and investigation, according to the report. 

This is the fourth burning incidents allegedly perpetuated by NPA rebels in Surigao del Sur. (BS/PIA-Caraga)


Trainings held for DILG-13 technical staff

BUTUAN CITY - Forty-nine (49) technical staff of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Region 13 attended three (3) kinds of trainings during the first quarter of 2010. 

Twenty-five (25) of them took the diagnostic tools complementation training early this year at Balanghai Hotel and Restaurant, Butuan City while sixteen (16) completed the two-day workshop on the preparation of provincial competency profile on February 15-16 at Goat2geder Hotel and Restaurant, Butuan City and eighteen (18) also completed another two-day workshop on monitoring and evaluation system on February 22-23, at Almont Inland Hotel, Butuan City. 

According to Lilibeth Famacion, DILG-13 asst. regional director, the trainings on complementation of diagnostic tools, preparation of provincial competency profile and the monitoring and evaluation system aim to enhance the knowledge and skills of the staff as service providers of the'Strengthening of Local Governments in the Philippines' (SLGP) project. 

Famacion said, these trainings are very enriching to the participants as they have complied with the desired training outputs and are eager to embark on a new challenge as enabler on capacity building of other units and the department's various clients. (DILG-13)


6 Dinagat towns plan for development

BUTUAN CITY - Six (6) towns of the province of Dinagat Islands (PDI) has started to think for their comprehensive development through the Sectoral Planning Workshop that DILG-13 conducted recently at Balanghai hotel and convention center, Butuan city. 

The municipalities of San Jose, Libjo and Loreto joined the planning workshop with funding from the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID) under the Strengthening Local Governments in the Philippines (SLGP) project. 

The municipalities of Basilisa, Cagdianao and Dinagat on the other hand attended the activity with their own local funding on the request of the League of Local Planning and Development Coordinators of the Philippines (LLPDC) Dinagat Islands chapter while the municipality of Tubajon failed to attend due to financial constraints. 

Participants to the workshop include the municipal budget and health officers; human resource management officers; social welfare and development officers; agriculturists; environment and natural resources officers; and local government operations officers. 

The activity is one of the flagship programs of the SLGP that aims to develop capacities of the local government units (LGUs) in formulating the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) as required under RA 7160. 

Lilibeth Famacion, asst. regional director of DILG-13 and Assistant PPDC Evelyn Cainglet of the province of Dinagat Islands were present to lend support to the activity and to encourage the towns to plan for their development and growth. 

The activity is part of the series of workshops in the formulation of the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) with resource speakers from the technical staff of the DILG, DENR, EMB, and OCD. 

The towns had already crafted their ecological profile on July 15-16, 2009, in Surigao City while the priority programs, projects and activities planning is set on April 26-27, 2010. (DILG-13/MACT III)


DILG-13 develops website

BUTUAN CITY - The Department of the Interior & Local Government (DILG-13) in Caraga region finally developed a webpage at the Local Governance Resource Center (LGRC) at the Regional Office in Libertad, Butuan City. 

As one of the accomplishments of the Strengthening Local Governments of The Philippines (SLGP), the development of the website paved the way for showcasing the various programs/projects/activities of the agency. 

The website features the SLGP page with the social marketing and program advocacy in mind. 

A significant number of local government officials showed interest & optimism to visit the website. (DILG-13)


RPOC-13 conducts 2 outreach activities in March

BUTUAN CITY - The Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-13) in the Caraga region conducted two (2) outreach activities in Barangay Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City and in on Jabonga, Agusan del Norte on March 16 and 23 respectively. 

Dubbed as "Hiniusang Paghatod Serbisyo alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalamboan," it highlighted the concerted and convergence efforts of all government agencies in the region for the delivery of basic services to the communities. 

Rene Burdeos, DILG-13 regional director and RPOC-13 head secretariat explained that the outreach activities aimed to strengthen and generate deeper involvement of all government agencies and the private sectors in bringing basic services to the people. 

Various government agencies brought their services direct to the communities that included the Department of Agriculture (DA) that distributed various vegetable seeds, anti-rabies vaccination, dog castration and de-worming of large ruminant animals. 

The Dept of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) distributed trees seedlings while the Dept of Education (DepEd) gave barangay assistance in the preparation for the opening of an integrated school in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte. 

The Dept of Public Works & Highways (DPWH) and the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) provided roadside maintenance, blood typing and blood pressure taking respectively. 

The National Statistics Office (NSO) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) answered queries on the processing of birth and travel documents. 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on the other hand delivered the most sought-after services-- tuli and tooth extraction. Forty-two (42) boys ages 7-12 were circumcised while 84 persons availed of the dental services. 

The Dept of the Interior & Local Government (DILG) provided for the syringes, needles and medicines for the circumcision while the Dept of Health (DOH) provided the medical services to the residents in Manila de Bugabos and Jabonga. 

The Rotary Club of Butuan City, an active partner of RPOC, fed about 54 malnourished children. 

Cecilio Denuro, Punong barangay of Manila de Bugabos appreciated the various services in his barangay and requested that more similar activities will be conducted in the area in the future. 

DENR also conducted climate change advocacy campaign in Jabonga, which the Mayor, Glicerio Monton was very thankful for. 

RPOC-13 believes that when government services are brought right at the doorsteps of the marginalized sector of our society especially those in the depressed areas, it can bring back the trust and confidence in the government. 

This is also another way of informing the public on the frontline services that government is able to give to the people specifically in the far-flung areas. 

The first RPOC-13 outreach program for this year was considered a tremendous success. More community outreach visits are now being planned within the Caraga region for the rest of 2010. (PIA/DILG-13, AIRB)


Over 10,000 Mindanaoans stage separate rallies to unite for peace, condemn violence

TRENTO, AGUSAN DEL SUR - In a show of solidarity against violence, people in different parts of Mindanao on Monday unite themselves in calling for peace as they slammed the use of arms in bringing about societal change, military officials reported Tuesday. 

In Malita town in Davao del Sur, around 3,000 people composed of pro-democracy groups, anti-communist organizations, barangay officials and local government unit (LGU) gathered at the public market to show indignation on the atrocities perpetrated by the New People's Army (NPA). 

In the towns of Bansalan, Sta. Cruz, Magsaysay, Matanao and the City of Digos of that same province, a combined number of another 3,000 people also gathered for peace and participated in the "Kuratong para sa Kalinaw" (Sound for peace) broadcasted live on leading local radio stations. 

In Southern Mindanao frontier city Davao, a peace rally went successfully as an estimated 2,000 people from different walks of life gathered at Victoria Plaza, Magsaysay Park and SM Mall then converged at Rizal Park in calling for peace. 

In the southern tip of Mindanao in Gen. Santos City, around 500 people from Karancho, Bigkis Balaod and other pro-democracy groups gathered at Lion's Beach to call for peace and stand against violence. 

In the Second District of Davao Oriental, bordering Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur, a peace caravan was also organized by the people in their call for peace and a stop to armed struggle as they toured the highways of Mati City and Lupon town. 

A day ago, an indignation rally against the atrocities perpetrated by the Maoist Communists was held with the participation of hundreds of residents, barangay officials and LGU in Laak town in Compostela Valley Province. 

Last March 15, some 2,000 residents, former rebels and pro-democracy groups held a march rally in Baganga town in the First District of Davao oriental to show their indignation on the atrocities and crimes of the Maoist NPA under the direct command of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). 

March 29 of last year, thousands of people gathered in major cities in the south to call for a stop to armed struggle and urged the CPP-NPA-NDF to trudge the peaceful way towards the attainment of change and abandon the use of arms and violence. 

"People in Southern Mindanao region already wanted peace and unity and condemned violence," said Maj. Gen. Carlos Holganza, commanding general of the Army's 10th Infantry Agila Division. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


NPAs destroy DOLE banana plantation in Surigao del Sur

TAGO, SURIGAO DEL SUR - At least 3,157 fully grown bananas (Savedish variety) were chopped and cut down by unidentified number of communist-New People's Army (NPA) at dawn Monday at Sitio (sub-village) Cabalawan, Barangay (village) Anahao-daan, in Tago town, Surigao del Sur, police authorities said Tuesday. 

Police said the perpetrators, believed regular members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA Northeastern Mindanao regional command (NEMRC), swooped down on a banana plantation owned by Dole Philippines at 2 a.m. and used bladed weapons in destroying the fully grown bananas. 

The incident happened during the 41st founding anniversary of the NPA, police said. 

Police is still conducting thorough investigation while Army soldiers are conducting hot pursuit operation against the perpetrators. 

On Saturday, undetermined number of NPA rebels also swooped down on a construction site and burned six heavy equipments owned by contractors of Dole Philippines at Barangay (village) Guinhalinan, in Barobo town, also of this province. 

Dole Philippines is undergoing expansion of their banana plantation in Surigao del Sur. 

Police said the communist terrorists fled after the incident. 

The equipments burned and completely damaged were two backhoes, owned by Hogan Builders based in Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur; two backhoes owned by Alanis Builders based in Rosario, Agusan del Sur; and two mini bulldozers owned by MFCS Construction based in Barangay Alegria, Barobo, Surigao del Sur. 

No one was reported hurt during the incident. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


Comelec issues resolution on fate of Dinagat provincial candidates in 2010 polls

by Robert E. Roperos 

BUTUAN CITY - Following the Supreme Court's decision declaring the creation of the Province of Dinagat Islands as unconstitutional thereby reverting said province to its previous status as part of the Province of Surigao del Norte, the Commission on Elections issued Resolution No. 8790 dated March 9, 2010 on the status of the election-related matters such as the electoral posts that were available and considered in the area. 

Accordingly, if the decision is reversed, there will be no problem since the current system configuration is in line with the reconsidered Decision, meaning that the Province of Dinagat Islands and the Province of Surigao del Norte remain as two (2) separate provinces. 

If the Decision becomes final and executory before the election, the Province of Dinagat Islands will revert to its previous status as part of the First Legislative District in Surigao del Norte. 

But because of the current system configuration, the law stated that the ballots for the Province of Dinagat Islands will, for the positions of Member – House of Representatives, Governor,vice Governor and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, bear only the names of the candidates for the said positions. 

Conversely, the ballots for the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, will for the position of Governor, Vice Governor, Member – House of Representatives of the First District of Surigao del Norte and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, show only candidates for the said position. Likewise, the whole Province of Surigao del Norte, will, for the position of Governor and Vice Governor, bear only the names of the candidates for the said position. 

Consequently, the voters of the Province of Dinagat Islands will not be able to vote for the candidates of Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Member of the House of Representatives in the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, and candidates for Governor and Vice Governor for Surigao del Norte. 

Meanwhile, voters of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, will not ne able to vote for Members in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Member of the House of Representatives in Dinagat Islands. Also, the voters of the whole Province of Surigao del Norte will not be able to vote for the Governor and Vice Governor, Member of the House of Representatives of the First Legislative District in Surigao del Norte, and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the First Legislative District (with Dinagat Islands) of Surigao del Norte. 

However, if the Decision becomes final and executory after the election, the Province of Dinagat Islands will revert to its previous status as part of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte. 

The result of the election will have to be nullified for the same reasons with the second condition mentioned above. A special election for Governor, Vice Governor, Member of the House of Representatives of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the First District of Surigao del Norte (with Dinagat Islands) will have to be conducted. 

It can be recalled that on February 10, 2010, the Supreme Court declares the creation of the Province of Dinagat Islands unconstitutional for failure to comply with the criteria for the creation of a province prescribed in Section 461 of the Local Government Code in relation to Section 10, Article 10 of the 1987 Constitution. (PIA-Caraga)


DILG-13 conducts training on effective communication skills

BUTUAN CITY - About 40 information officers and other technical staff of the Dept of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-13) in the Caraga region attended 3-day training on effective communication skills on March 29-31, 2010 at the Goat2geder Hotel, Butuan City. 

Lilibeth Farmacion, assistant regional director of DILG-13, in her opening message said that this training has been long overdue. "The last training on communication was about 10 years ago and with the advent of the I.T technology, we have to equip our staff to cope with the challenges ahead," Farmacion added. 

The DILG has an array of programs and projects under the 'Strengthening Local Governments in the Philippines' (SLGP) that needed to be popularized. 

People and even local government officials are not fully aware up to what extent the department can assist them in local governance, Farmacion said. 

The training will help provide the information officers and some technical staff of the office the needed skills to communicate better in writing and in public speaking. 

"They will be given lectures and workshops on how to write effective memos and in-house communication; how to craft news stories, press releases and package information from various sources," ARD Farmacion smiled. 

Farmacion further said that the DILG-13 invited Minerva Newman, regional director, Philippine Information Agency (PIA-7) based in Cebu to facilitate and manage the entire training. 

She said Newman's training module included topics on the communication process, writing the official memo, setting-up a press conference, press release and news writing and the art of public speaking. 

Newman employed innovative strategies and learning tools in the course presentation. She left no room for boredom in the process of each learning activities and workshops. She has zest and wit in providing the inputs as well as in critiquing the various outputs. 

Omee, Maribel, Dulce, Jepoy, Jojo and the rest of the participants were all game during the workshops. Majority described it as "blast learning." 

We want more! They clamored as they continued to show their eagerness to learn and explore broader horizons in effective writing and public speaking. 

The training is part of the department's continuing education to upgrade the skills of its personnel through the'Strengthening Local Governments of the Philippines' (SLGP) project funded by the Spanish Government. 

With smiles and high spirits, the DILG-13 staff looks forward to similar workshops in the future, preferable newsletter production and photography, they intimated. (DILG-13)


DPWH deploys MATs to assist motorists during Lenten Week observance

TANDAG CITY, SURIGAO DEL SUR - Anticipating the influx of motorists along major thoroughfares in key cities and provinces in Northeastern Mindanao (Caraga Region) during the Lenten season, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) makes the necessary preparations to assure road safety and travel convenience of the public. 

Caraga Region DPWH Regional Director Evelyn T. Barroso ordered on Sunday all District Engineering Offices (DEOs) in provinces and cities all over the region to deploy Motorists Assistance Teams (MATs) along the main national highways under their respective jurisdictions. 

The teams are composed of engineers, auto mechanics, equipment operators and service crews. 

Dr. Barroso said the MATs will attend and give free roadside emergency repair assistance to motorists in the region during the weeklong observance of Lenten season. 

"Our MATs will be assisted by our local contractors," the region's DPWH chief said. 

The DPWH has already deployed MATs at various strategic areas in the region's capital city of Butuan in anticipation of the influx of motorists during the Holy Week. 

"We already anticipated the huge volume of motorists and we are ready to assist," said Butuan's District Engineering head Engr. Nicolas Alameda. 

With the directive of DPWH Secretary Victor Domingo, all DPWH Regional Directors and District Engineers are instructed to ensure that all road sections are well maintained, informational and directional signs are installed on conspicuous locations and well visible along national roads, Alameda said. 

"We will deploy DPWH equipment and mechanics to be assigned in critical areas along national roads in round-the-clock shift to provide immediate assistance to emergency road situations," said Secretary Domingo in his directive. 

Domingo added that travel advisories for the alternate routes by-passing traffic congested areas and road sections where construction activities are ongoing must be installed, specifying the entry and exit points and corresponding distances. 

Under the project dubbed as "Lakbay Alalay" Annual Lenten Program, the regional directors and district engineers were also instructed to coordinate with their respective Land and Transportation Office (LTO), Philippine National Police (PNP) and concerned officials of the local government units in order that required assistance may be provided by the DPWH. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


Mindanao officials, biz group call for immediate improvement of watersheds to solve power woes

BUTUAN CITY - Top Mindanao leaders and the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) on Monday urged the national government and all sectors to unite in improving the watershed surrounding the Agus Lake and Pulangi hydro complex to avert more power crisis in the island. 

The Mindanao officials and business group also asked the national government and multi-sectoral water and forest protection committees to activate the watershed management committees for strict implementation of laws, rules and regulations of the Lake Lanao and Pulangi watersheds, sources of Mindanao grid. 

This immediate action plan was proposed after top officials of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) and MBC led by Chairman Jesus G. Dureza and Vicente Lao, respectively personally conducted on-site inspection of the two hydroelectric plants last week. 

They said there is an immediate need to improve the watershed management surrounding the Agus Lake and Pulangi Hydro Complex to avert worsening power crisis. 

They further said there is no problem on the structure of the facilities. 

"What is lacking is a responsible water management in these areas," said Secretary Dureza. 

In their actual inspection, they observed massive denudation of the watershed area which is supposed to be the catch basin of water that would run the Agus hydroelectric plants. The officials said massive reforestation must take place. 

The visiting officials urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to strictly implement watershed management in those areas. 

Dureza also urged environmental groups and local government units to work hand-in-hand on a watershed management plan for Lake Lanao. 

A report gathered from the Regional Development Council (RDC) stated that the watershed in Lake Lanao is experiencing varying degrees of erosion. 

The power crisis in Mindanao is brought about by the below normal capacity operation of the hydropower plants due to the extremely low water levels of Lake Lanao. 

Mud has heavily accumulated in the Agus River, preventing the state-owned National Power Corporation (Napocor) from operating its hydro power plants at full capacity due to the damage that the mud may cause on the turbines. 

In Monday's advisory, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said the available capacity power supply is only 779 megawatts. Mindanao's peak load is 1,224. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


Gov't nets P40.8M in forest protection drive in Caraga region

BUTUAN CITY - The no non-sense drive on forest protection campaign in the Caraga region had netted at least P40.8 million since last year up to the present. 

The huge amount was based on the confiscated 15,275.19 cubic meters or 249,420.50 board feet of illegally-cut round logs and lumbers from various areas in Northeastern Mindanao. 

Aside from these confiscated forest products, at least P3.85 million worth of conveyances also added to the accomplishments of various provincial and community environment and natural resources offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) anti-illegal logging task force. 

These confiscated forest products and conveyances were already turned over to the Natural Resources and Development Corporation (NRDC), marketing arm of the DENR for public bidding. 

Some of these confiscated forest products were already bidded. 

DENR Caraga Regional Executive Director (RED) Edilberto S. Buiser attributed these achievements to the ongoing all-out forest protection drive not only to DENR's anti-illegal logging task force but also to local government unit officials, police and military, especially the Caraga Conference Peace and Development (CCPD) led by its founding chair Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of the Diocese of Butuan. 

Bulk of this came from the Agusan del Sur Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) led by PENR Officer Sixto C. Badua. 

The PENR officer received several certificates of commendation and appreciations for these accomplishments on environment preservation and forest protection. 

Meanwhile, Bunawan CENR officer Ulpiano Dasilao and Forestry Supervisor Victor Sabornido reported on Monday the latest apprehension of 720 pieces of logs and 1,949 pieces of sawn-lumber or 4,422 board feet at the southern part of the province of Agusan del Sur. 

In their flash report, Dasilao and Sabornido said the forest products with conveyances ? five 10-wheeler trucks, two Saddam trucks, three 10-wheeler Wing Van and one six-wheeler Fuzo forward, are now under administrative proceedings at Bunawan CENRO office in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. 

The two field forest officials requested RED Buiser and PENR officer Badua for lawyers to help them prosecute the owners of the seized forest products in local court. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


Caraga poll bets attend spiritual recollection

BUTUAN CITY - The spiritual recollection called for by the Roman Catholic Church-led Caraga Conference for Peace and Development (CCPD) which is off-limits to media, has drawn more than 100 candidates from different parts of Caraga Region. 

A very important Roman Catholic priest who begged not to be identified, claiming he just wanted to work behind the scene, told the Philippines News Agency more than 100 candidates have arrived as of 11:30 a.m. and they are expecting more. 

The priest explained that the recollection is off-limits to newsmen so that candidates attending it can concentrate, claiming that with media around, "candidates seemed to be distracted". 

A check at the secretariat table revealed 89 candidates so far have registered. A registration fee of P500 was collected from each participant candidate to cover one meal (lunch), snacks and other expenses, the secretariat explained. 

Re-electionist Butuan City Councilor Erwin Dano told PNA he is hoping the spiritual recollection will somehow strengthen the spiritual commitment of the candidates for honest, peaceful and orderly elections on May 10. 

Earlier in a press statement, the CCPD called on candidates in the five provinces of Caraga Region to undergo "spiritual recollections" on Monday, March 29. 

It claimed that with the one-day activity, they hoped that prayers and actions would be inseparable and serve as guidepost to candidates to practice and pursuit the conduct of an honest, orderly and peaceful elections in the region. 

Caraga is composed of the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Agusan Del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao Del Sur and the island province of Dinagat. 

It has a total of 1,786 candidates vying for different elective positions from councilors to mayors to governors and congressmen who are given a three-year term. (BS/PIA-Caraga)


P285-M MRDP projects set for Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The World Bank (WB) and officials and technical men of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), along with the Department of Agriculture (DA), are preparing for the implementation of P285 million worth of additional development projects for Mindanao, it was learned Saturday. 

The World Bank team is now conducting site visits and assessments in the participating areas in Mindanao to review the anti-poverty program of the Department of Agriculture. 

The team will assess the impact of these agricultural infrastructure projects, livelihood, governance reform and environmental projects under the MRDP. 

It hopes to see attainment of the two program objectives, which are to provide livelihood opportunities to these areas and institutionalize a decentralized system for the delivery of agricultural services. 

MRDP program is part of the food security program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration in Mindanao. 

MRDP, a five-year WB-funded program, is now on its second phase and third year of implementation of farmers' countryside development. 

The MRDP aims to increase income of farmers, capacitating women and indigenous people, and enhancing local governance and environmental protection. 

The MRDP program has already accomplished over P131 million worth of agricultural infrastructure, including close to 66 kilometers of farm-to-market roads, bridges and four units of potable water systems. 

The third-year implementation involves P271 million for the rural infrastructure and P14 million for the community fund for agricultural development. 

The WB urges more qualified local government units (LGUs) to avail of the MRDP as it holds its second phase of program implementation. 

Lealyn Ramos, program director of MRDP, urged qualified LGUs in Mindanao to participate and avail of the program. 

Of the 225 municipalities that are allowed to avail of the 50 percent grant from WB through MRDP, only 118 towns participated, Ramos said. 

However, it was gathered that the lack of participation was caused by the 50-50 scheme set by MRDP and some LGUs do not have enough financial capacity to carry out the equity share. 

However, Ramos said the LGUs can actually source out their equity share from the provincial government or the district representative if the municipality really lacks the money to put in as their counterpart fund. (muc/PIA-Caraga)