PIA News Service - Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PACAP presents project accomplishments in Caraga

By: Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY (14 April)“Implicit in the Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP) goal are poverty-focused improvements in local economies, the environment and the social context,” thus said Lourdes Marina Padilla, PACAP Program Coordinator during the media briefing on Tuesday (April 13) held at the Function Room of Dottie’s Place Hotel, this city.

According to Padilla, PACAP has been effecting the improvements through 276 civil society organizations spread across 59 of the country’s 81 provinces, and has benefitted well over one million people through Responsive Assistance Scheme (RAS), and 800,000 people through Focused Community Assistance Scheme (FOCAS) method.

Padilla further presented that FOCAS-Mindanao was able to approve 114 grant agreements with a grant amount of Php 237 million in three provinces where two of the said provinces are in Caraga Region: Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte. Misamis Occidental in Region 10 is also included as beneficiary.

In Agusan del Sur, 34 grant agreements was made amounting to Php 76 million. Misamis Occidental followed with 43 grant agreements which has a grant amount of Php 85 million. Surigao del Norte is the third to benefit with 37 grant agreements and with grant amount of Php 77 million.

FOCAS-Visayas, on the other hand, was able to approve 63 grant agreements with Php 174 million grant amount, with the following composition: Bohol – 31 grant agreements amounting to Php 92 million and; Northern Samar – 32 grant agreements with Php 82 million grant amount.

Meanwhile, under RAS, 251 grant agreements were approved with a grant amount of Php 336 million.

PACAP projects have made every effort to address issues of environmental protection, either directly or indirectly.

Almost two thirds (62.5%) of PACAP’s completed projects have included components that have contributed directly to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 which is to ensure environmental sustainability.

Of these projects, more than half (56%) have promoted the implementation of new or reformed local environmental ordinances, while 47% have facilitated the formation of new community-based environmental protection groups.

PACAP has currently completed forty-four environmental protection projects, including marine sanctuaries and organic fertilizer production facilities.

On average, each project has planted almost 40,000 trees, corresponding to an estimated total of 1.09 million trees since January 2005.

Of the 19 FOCAS engagement strategies, 31% have a strong ecological emphasis, four centering specifically on significant protected areas such as: Agusan Marsh, Siargao Island, Lake Mainit, all in Caraga Region, and Mount Malindang in Misamis Occidental, Region 10. (PIA-Caraga)



PACAP forum on climate change set in Butuan

By: Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY (14 April) - The Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP) will conduct a forum on the environment, development, and climate change on Thursday and Friday, April 15-16, 2010 in one of the local convention centers here.

With the theme: “PACAP and the Environment: Building Community Resilience, Sustaining Development,” 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 environmental protection, governance, sustainable development and climate change adaptation.

Part of the forum’s goal is to summarize the experiences and lessons from PACAP funded projects on environment and how these are contributing to the global effort in environmental protection, governance, sustainable development and climate change adaptation.

In particular, the forum aims to identify lessons and best practices and share these among partners. It also facilitates networking and partnerships amongst CSOs, government, donors, and other national environment networks and groups.

Topics and cases will be anchored on the Australian Aid Strategy on the Environment which covers three themes: Climate Change, Water, and Environmental Governance. Cases that will be discussed and presented are: projects covering protection and governance of coastal marine ecosystem, watersheds, wetlands, and ancestral domains; studies and stories on the connection of environment to basic services and livelihood projects; and case studies on how communities address the impacts of climate change and the threats to lives, livelihood, peace, and natural resources.

Representative from AusAID, PACAP implementing agency, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), speakers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PACAP partner organizations and beneficiaries, PACAP staff and David Swete Kelly - Program Director of PACAP will participate in the said event.

PACAP is a bilateral development program supporting community-initiated, economically sustainable, ecologically sound and gender responsive development efforts. It aims to achieve these through financial assistance and multi-level capability building in partnership with local government units (LGUs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and people’s organizations (POs) with the end-view of improving the quality of life of poor communities. (PIA-Caraga)



30th Infantry (Python) Battalion commemorates 37th founding anniversary

By: Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY (14 April) – The 30th Infantry (Python) Battalion of the Philippine Army will commemorate its 37th Founding Anniversary on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at the battalion headquarters in Brgy. Santa Cruz, Placer, Surigao del Norte.

Anchored on the theme: “Ang Katawhan ug Kasundaluhan, Katambayayong alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan,” the celebration will highlight the awarding of plaques of recognition to local chief executives and religious leaders who have supported the Philippine Army.

Also, deserving military personnel who have shown loyalty and outstanding performance as soldiers will be receiving medals from Major General Mario Chan, Commander of the 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division who will be the Speaker and Guest of Honor. Meanwhile, the newly-promoted enlisted personnel will also be pinned with chevrons.

Prior to the celebration, it can be recalled that last April 6-8, 2010, said battalion, thru the active leadership of its Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Roberto Valencia spearheaded the conduct of the 2010 Youth Empowerment Summer Camp (YESC) at the Sanchez Gym of Caraga State University (CSU) in Barangay Ampayon, this city.

Participated by Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Officials of the different barangays of the city, the activity aimed to enhance the leadership skills and abilities of the youths being the future leaders of the next generation.

According to report, the summer camp conducted is just one of the two-batch scheduled this summer. The next batch is set on April 19-21, 2010 at the same venue. (PIA-Caraga)


PNP spearheads National Prayer for HOPE 2010

By Michael A. Imbo

BUTUAN CITY (April 14) – The Regional Office of the Philippine National Police (PNP) joined hands with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in spearheading the ecumenical prayer participated by various religious groups to call for an honest, orderly and peaceful elections in May, 2010 .

Dubbed as “National Prayer for HOPE 2010” the activity was held today (April 14), at Police Regional Office, Camp Rafael Rodriguez, this city.

The program started at 7:00 o’clock in the morning with opening ecumenical services led by Butuan Bishop Most Rev. Juan Dios Pueblos. In his prayer, Bishop Pueblos called on political candidates from the national down to the municipal levels to faithfully observe a clean and honest election.

“We are created in his image and likeness. Every vote is sacred. Let us cast our vote with discernment and commitment. For once, let us save our country. Vote according to our conscience,” the Bishop said.

In behalf of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Dir. Soekamo J. Mohamad, Legal Officer Faisal Mamintal delivered his Islam prayer.

Also, Lt. Col. Efraim Oropel of the Philippine Army sends forth his ecumenical messages to his fellow soldiers to always follow the chain of command and not as servants of politicians.

“Manghinaut kaming mga kasundaluhan nga malinawon ang eleksyon sa Mayo” (We (soldiers) hope that the forthcoming May election will be peaceful and orderly), the officer said.

Meanwhile, PNP Regional Director PCSUPT Lino Calingasan presented the directive commands from PNP Chief General Jesus Versoza for the May elections, as stated in the ten commands for HOPE 2010: 1. Fear God, love your country and protect the sanctity of the ballot. 2. Focus only on your solemn oath to serve and protect the people. 3. Honor your badge and use your authority to ensure clean and honest election. 4. Remember that election is sacred. You and your fellowmen had a sacred duty to exercise the right to vote. 5. Honor and follow only the established chain of command. 6. Respect human rights, protect the environment and enforce all laws without fear and favor. 7. Love your job as an act of faithfulness to your family. 8. Respect and protect the sanctity of your vote and the vote of others. 9. Ensure the fruitfulness and integrity of all your reports. Do not help spread rumors or falsehoods. 10. Be content and support whoever gets and mandate of the people.

For his part, Verzosa said that despite of all of their security preparations, ensuring peaceful elections would not be possible without spiritual help.

Moreover, police officers conducted ceremonial pinning of HOPE button pin led by Dir. Calingasan, followed by releasing of balloons. (PIA-Caraga)



Surigao City receives US$ 250,000 worth of fire, medical equipment from USA

SURIGAO CITY (April 14) – The fire fighting capability of Surigao City Fire Department and Surigao City Health Office are strengthened when donors from Ashford, Washington, U.S.A. handed over US$ 250,000 worth of fire fighting and medical equipment and supplies to the local government unit.

The said equipment were personally received by Surigao City Mayor Alfonso S. Casurra from the donor group led by Richard L. Caldwell early this week.

The equipment received were fire ambulance, two dental chairs and equipment, ultrasound machine, nine wheelchairs, seven walkers and several other medical equipment and supplies.

“The donation was made possible through the efforts of John and Amy Pike,” said Mayor Casurra on Wednesday.

The city’s chief executive was extremely grateful for the donation and in behalf of the city government thanked the group of Caldwell and couple John and Amy Pike for their unconditional gift and generosity to the people of Surigao.

“This is a big help to our people,” Casurra added.

Meanwhile, a Basic Emergency Obstetric Care Facility is set to rise in the nickel city of Surigao, it was also learned.

The groundbreaking facility at Barangay Taft (near the Taft National High School) of that same city took place recently and was attended by top city officials and city health staff led by the city mayor and Department of Health (DOH) officials led by Regional Director Leonita P. Gorgolon.

Mayor Casurra said the health facility will provide safe and basic services for pregnant mothers who will give birth to avoid mother and child mortality.

The facility is the first in Caraga region and given as a reward from the DOH to the City of Surigao after being adjudged outstanding in its health programs.

Director Gorgolon during the launch of the “Healthy Park” campaign at the Luneta Park of that same city lauded the city government for being ahead in the health program of the government.

She cited the city government’s campaign on tobacco free and drug free city, public transport friendly, providing car free zones, enforcement of anti-smoke belching, pedestrianization, opening of bike lanes, barrier free safe roads, safe walkways and other health services in the barangays.

The DOH official who served as guest of honor and speaker at the “Healthy Park” program, said the different activity of the city government are also part of the “1000 Cities, 1000 Lives” campaign program of the DOH, in line with the celebration of World Health Day.

"The urbanization 1,000 program is a mitigating measure to act on any disease in urban areas and also incorporate health to policies related to urbanization," added Director Gorgolon. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


Tourists arrivals in Northern Mindanao reach 1,048,662 in 2009

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (April 14) – Tourists arrivals in Northern Mindanao reached 1,048,662, up slightly by 0.7 percent to 1,041,362 the previous year.

Department of Tourism (DoT) data indicated that tourists from Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia topped the arrivals among the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) countries with Korea posting the highest increase of 26.6 percent.

Tourist arrivals from Finland, Belgium, Austria, Norway and Sweden in the European cluster also posted remarkable improvement while arrival of "Balikbayans" posted a 67.2 percent increase.

The cities of Cagayan de Oro, Gingoog-Misamis Oriental cluster continued to be the most visited regional destinations, posting a 35-percent share of the arrivals, DoT report said.

It also showed that the cities of Ozamiz, Oroquieta and Tangub, all of Misamis Occidental gathered 30 percent; Camiguin, 25.53 percent; Iligan-Lanao del Norte, 8.5 percent; and Bukidnon, 1.4 percent.

Northern Mindanao region also hosted a total of 4,644 events last year, higher by 70.3 percent compared to 2,727 in 2008 with registered delegates of 452,144, higher by 80 percent compared to 251,659 in the previous year.

Of these events, 54 were international, 4,063 were local, 444 were regional and 83 were national events posting an increase in hotel occupancy rate of 2.3 percent.

“This influx of tourist arrivals attributed to the continuing relatively better peace and order condition in Northern Mindanao thus, continued to draw tourists to the region," said Northern Mindanao DoT Regional Director Catalino E. Chan III.

Chan added: "This is proven by the number of foreign and domestic tourists that visited the region last year".

Meanwhile, the DoT in Northeastern Mindanao (Caraga region) also showing increase of arrivals due to several tourist destinations, particularly in Surigao del Norte’s so called “paradise islands”.

Tourist visits in Agusan Marsh in Agusan del Sur also recorded high every year, said Caraga region DoT Regional Director Letty Tan.

Tourist arrivals in Region XIII recorded in 2008: 29,570 foreign, balikbayans 2,324 while domestic 388,023 with a total of 419,917.

In 2009, 28,109 foreign, balikbayans 2,391 while domestic recorded at 398,336 with a total of 428,836 with percentage growth of 2.12 percent.

Caraga region has 127 eco-tourism sites.

Surigao City posted being the most visited area being the international surfing and fishing competitions capital in the region. (muc/PIA-Caraga)