8.09.2010

PIA News Service - Monday, Aug. 9, 2010

Surigao Norte solon unveils more tourism destinations in Siargao 
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By Fryan E. Abkilan

SURIGAO DEL NORTE (9 August) - Another tourism destination is set to be developed in the island of Siargao, 1st District Congressman Francisco Matugas has recently unveiled the Mangrove fishing project in the municipality of del Carmen.

Cong. Matugas, in an interview with local media said he is now on the process of finalizing the Mangrove fishing project to further boost the island’s tourism industry.

Matugas said that he has plans of visiting the city of Darwin in Australia where the famous mangrove sportsfishing is located. 

“In Darwin, one of the cities in Australia, their number one tourist attraction is mangrove fishing. I want to visit there along with del Carmen Mayor Alfredo Coro, Jr. and our Tourism Officer for we want to study their style and strategies,” Matugas said.

Matugas added that with the success of Darwin mangrove fishing, it is possible that with the island’s own version, same will also happen.  

One advantage according to Cong. Matugas is that the mangrove area in Siargao covers around 8 thousand hectares. “We are the second largest mangrove area in the country.” 

The mangrove fishing project will be expected to traverse in the towns of del Carmen, San Benito, Sta. Monica and Pilar. 

Meantime, Cong. Matugas also revealed that he had already given his Priority Development Allocation Fund (PDAF) to Gov. Sol Matugas in support for the province development program.

Speaking before a hundred of attendees during the launching of the 1st Siargao Surfing Festival in Gen. Luna, Cong. Matugas said he has no choice but to commit all his PDAF to Gov. Sol. 

“I have given all my resources to provide support to the 9 LGU’s of Siargao for this is now the thrust of the present governor,” he said.

Cong. Matugas also vowed to support the plans and programs of the new Secretary of Tourism to disperse the programs on tourism to other areas, “not only in Boracay but to other beautiful places also like Siargao.”

Cong. Matugas revealed that Siargao Island is the only place in Mindanao to have two international events participated in by foreigners namely; the International Surfing Cup in General Luna and Int’l Game fishing in Pilar.

He then conveyed his gratitude to DOT Usec. Simeon Marfori, the event guest speaker, for gracing the event, “on short notice, thank you for coming.” (PIA-Surigao del Norte)


Siargao Island losing tourist visitors due to high fees says Tourism Council prexy

By Fryan E. Abkilan

SURIGAO DEL NORTE (9 August) – The island of Siargao is losing the would-be visitors because of its high fees of tourism activities in the surfing capital.

Newly inducted president of Provincial Tourism and Development Council (PTDC) Johann Jake Miranda said he received a number of complaints by some resort owners regarding the unregulated fees of tourism activities such as pump boat, van, tricycle, and habal-habal rentals in the island.

“There have been a number of complaints of the local and foreign tourists regarding these exorbitant fees.”

At present, van rentals in Siargao cost P500, tricycle rental is P250, P30 each riding individually in tricycles and P200/person for habal-habal motorcycle. 

Miranda said that resort owners were also dismayed because some of their fellow resort owners are paying commissions to van drivers who will bring guests to their resorts. “It’s an unfair practice because not all of them can afford to give that kind of commission.”

According to Miranda, there’s also a report from some resort owners that “some homes in Gen. Luna accept lodgers which should not be allowed since their homes are not accredited by the Department of Tourism and it robs the accredited inns and resorts in the business.” Miranda emphasized that the municipality of Gen. Luna does not have a home stay program because there are “sufficient number of resorts in the town to accommodate these tourists.”

Miranda also revealed the exorbitant fees in going to the famous Sohoton Cove that discourages the local and foreign tourists.

“You have to rent a boat for P500 and on that boat you have to pay the guides which are at the minimum of two (2) guides per boat at P165/person. There’s also this silly fee that if you want to dive in that lagoon where the non-toxic jellyfish is located, you’d have to pay P100/person for a dip in that lagoon,” said Miranda.
 
 “All in all, a group of four or six tourists going to Sohoton will first pay for the boat rental from Gen. Luna to Sohoton which should only be charged with P4,000 but some resorts charged about P6,000 to P8,000 just to go there,” he added.

According to Miranda on average for a group of four to six tourists, they will have to shell out P2, 000/person, “which for a lot of tourists, they find it very exorbitant… very expensive.”

Miranda said that Sohoton Cove being such an enchanting place losses its luster and appeal because of these fees by some local entrepreneurs and has so far become unregulated by the government.

Tourism council action

“We now have a plan to establish a uniform rates, aside from that, the resort owners would also like to establish the uniform rates for the popular 3-island tour, which is the island tour of Guyam, Daku island and Naked island to be pegged at only P1,500,” said Miranda who now heads the re-organized PTDC and currently the outgoing President of the Surigao Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).

“For a trip to Guyam itself, it should only be P500,” Miranda added. 

In anticipation of the influx of tourist arrivals in the island, Miranda also revealed that they are now planning to post the tariff rates right at the port of Dapa and in Gen. Luna, “so that everyone will get informed and that there will be no haggling of fees.”

With these regularization and uniformity of fees, Miranda is hopeful that it will definitely help both the resort owners and the tourists in the island.

As for the problem in Sohoton, Miranda said there’s now a proposal to dismantle these local entrepreneurs currently operating in the area. “We’ll have to talk to the LGU (Socorro) and the barangay captain and if they failed to address the problem or regulate the fees, we have the mandate to dismantle these groups who are apparently creating a cartel there.” (PIA-Surigao del Norte)


Caraga region, becoming an alternative supplier of vegetables to Visayas area

BUTUAN CITY – Eager to get the latest updates on the Mindanao Vegetable Industry a total of 300 vegetable growers and stakeholders joined the 2-day 7th Mindanao Vegetable Congress held at Almont Inland here in the city.

The 7TH Mindanao Vegetable Congress is aimed at strengthening Mindanao’s vegetable sector, share amongst participants some learning experiences in fostering sustainable quantity and quality of vegetables for the domestic market and gather important updates and facilitate linkages between vegetable growers and prospective buyers and partners.

Undersecretary Joel Rudinas, who represents DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said, the event is also aimed at getting information or situation reports from each vegetable council about the state of the industry, market trend, and supply and demand level of vegetables in their respective provinces and encouraged vegetable growers to adopt a Private to Private Partnerships (PPP) to expand markets.

Southern Philippines Vegetable Council Vice President Jose Victor Santos revealed Northern Mindanao is the biggest vegetable producer in the entire island of Mindanao.

The 190-member of Northern Mindanao Vegetables Producers Association (NorMinVeggies), an association of small growers and independent anchor farms in Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon ships about 30-40 metric tons of quality vegetables to Metro Manila, Cebu, Bohol, Bacolod, and now Davao. 

Record shows, Region 10 had a total of 15,848 hectares of vegetable farms and produces 367,350 metric tons of vegetables a year having a surplus of 367%.

Caraga on the other hand, only has an area of 2,341 hectares planted with vegetable crops with only 42 hectares planted with semi temperate vegetables. 

Valeriano Palco, President of the Caraga High-Value Cluster, Inc. (CHiVeCC) said, the region’s agro-climatic conditions are suitable for growing semi-temperate vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, potatoes and cabbage, as well as tropical varieties like bitter gourd, eggplant and squash.

Vegetables produced in Caraga Region slowly found its market in Leyte and Cebu and recently in Davao, taking advantage of the high buying prices.

“CHiVeCC was now shipping around 20 metric tons of vegetables weekly to Leyte and Cebu, including okra, eggplant, squash and bitter gourd which are shipped from Nasipit port,” said Palco.

Caraga is being groomed as an alternative supplier of tropical vegetable varieties to Samar-Leyte and Cebu areas.

“Caraga, along with other non-traditional vegetable production regions is being promoted by the Southern Philippines Vegetable Council (SPVC) as a potential expansion area for vegetable to major markets in Visayas region based on our proximity,” said CHiVeCC President Valeriano Palco.

CHiVeCC is being assisted by Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) and is now considered as one of the emerging vegetable producer associations in the Caraga Region who already established counterparts in Bukidnon and Davao. (Jocelyn E. Morano, dxBN-Radyo ng Bayan Butuan/PIA-Caraga)


52 army soldiers awarded AFP’s housing program

52 soldiers, 21 of them from 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division were awarded Certificates of Ownership to their new homes in Camp Osito Bahian, Malaybalay City, 5 August 2010. 

Major General Mario F Chan AFP, Commander, 4ID, PA said, “This is the AFP’s response to the housing problem faced by most of our soldiers. This will greatly boost their morale and motivate them to work harder and accomplish their assigned tasks with excellence.”

The AFP housing program under the “Kalinga sa Kawal Housing Project” grants each beneficiary with a 150-square meter lot and a house to be paid for under a 50-50 sharing scheme between beneficiary and donors. 

The program was formulated and realized through partnerships between the Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation, Inc (GKCDFI), Office of Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr, and Office of former Secretary Luis Lorenzo Jr in June 16, 2005. 

Sgt Julie Grapes Manangan of 4ID greatly appreciated the gesture of Higher Headquarters in looking at the welfare of the soldiers by providing low-cost housing. “This project will greatly uplift our standard of living kay maayo gyud ning naa na tay kaugalingon nga balay” she added.

At present there are other Kalinga sa Kawal Housing Projects implemented nationwide particularly in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Camp Tecson in Bulacan, Camp O’Donnel in Tarlac, Camp Peralta in Capiz and other areas where there are military reservations. (LTC TRIUMPH DOMINIC G BAGAIPO (OS) PA, 4th CMO Bn, 4ID, PA/PIA-Caraga)


403rd Infantry Brigade installs new CO

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Colonel Romeo L Gapuz assumed command of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, 4ID, Philippine Army based in Camp Osito Bahian, Malaybalay City last 04 August 2010. 403rd Bde covers the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.

Col Gapuz replaces Colonel Nicanor E Dolojan who will become the Deputy Commander of the elite Special Operations Command (SOCOM) which is based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. Col Gapuz is previously assigned with the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division based in Jamindan, Capiz and is a member of PMA Class 81. 

“One guy leaving with very spectacular accomplishments and another guy coming in with full acceptance of the challenges of the future” remarked MGen Mario F Chan AFP, Commander, 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division, Philippine Army, the Guest of Honor and Presiding Officer.

MGen added that, “The leadership and management excellence displayed by Col Dolojan has permeated down to all levels of his command.” 

 “The litany of accomplishments by my predecessor challenges me to doubly work hard in order to equal if not surpass. And with that I accept the challenge” Col Gapuz said during his assumption speech.

Col Dolojan led the 403rd IBde with very spectacular accomplishments and has influenced the unit to be a formidable force committed to pursue lasting peace. In a token of appreciation for his services, Col Dolojan was awarded with a Military Merit Medal and a Command Plaque by MGen Mario F Chan AFP. (LTC TRIUMPH DOMINIC G BAGAIPO (OS) PA, 4th CMO Bn, 4ID, PA/PIA-Caraga)


GSIS members, pensioners with no UMID eCard can still use old eCard Plus 

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) announced the old eCard Plus will remain active and can be used by members and pensioners who have not yet enrolled for the UMID eCard and for those who have not yet received or activated their new eCard.

The GSIS said the old eCard Plus will only be deactivated once a member or pensioner activates his/her UMID eCard. Activation can be done using any UMID-compliant G-W@PS kiosk located in all GSIS offices nationwide.

The pension fund added it has yet to announce when all eCard Plus will be deactivated. This is in light of the ongoing enrollment of all GSIS members and pensioners for the UMID eCard.

UMID stands for Unified Multi-purpose ID System and is an offshoot of Executive Order No. 420 which requires all government agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations to streamline and harmonize their identification systems through the use of a unified multi-purpose ID.

The GSI S is the first to adopt the UMID card.

Meanwhile, the GSIS enjoins its members and pensioners to enroll now for the UMID eCard given that all G-W@PS kiosks will undergo an upgrade that would also make them UMID-compliant.

The GSIS said holding on to the old eCard Plus will disallow members and pensioners from enjoying the full benefits of the new card because the upgraded kiosks will only allow transactions using the UMID eCard.

Kiosk transactions include online loan applications, online viewing of GSIS records and annual renewal of active status for pensioners.

The UMID eCard is a multipurpose card which also functions as an ATM card, a transaction card, a debit card, hospitalization and medicine discount card, and an education benefit card, among others.

To date, a total of 999,617 GSIS members and pensioners have been enrolled to the UMID eCard. (GSIS/PIA-Caraga)
Philippine-EAGA gears toward economic advantage - DENR official

BUTUAN CITY (9 August) - The Philippine-EAGA Working Group (WG) is now heading toward a stronger political and economic advantage not only for the Philippines but most especially to its counterparts like Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, according to a top regional official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). 

"The direction of the WG is now in positive outlook, a project that has a stronger political and economic advantage," DENR's Southern Mindanao Regional Executive Director (RED) Jim O. Sampulna said on Sunday. 

The region's environment chief disclosed this assessment after the DENR 11 hosted a two-day meeting and Action Plan Workshop of the Philippine-EAGA WG on Forestry and Environment held recently at a downtown hotel in the frontier City of Davao. 

The meeting was attended by top officials of DENR Regions 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other stakeholders. The meeting aimed not only to address and resolve issues and other concerns pertaining to the WG on Forestry and Environment but to also review thoroughly the Action Plan, specifically the programs and projects that would revitalize the Philippine-EAGA as well as the BIMP-EAGA Working Group, Sampulna said. 

BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asian Growth Area. 

"We have lots to offer here in Mindanao. We can offer our barren lands for them to invest. That way, it will help the economy of the Philippines," he said. 

Sampulna also reported on the result of the 2010 BIMP-EAGA Strategic Planning Workshop which was held in Malaysia on Nov. 23-25, 2009. He highlighted on his report BIMP-EAGAS's priority deliverables for 2010 such as the implementation of the Halal Poultry and Fisheries Consortium Projects, focusing more on the sustainable forest and biodiversity management in Borneo Island and Climate Change adaptation. 

On the other hand, representatives from Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), formerly known as the Mindanao Economic and Development Council or MEDCO, briefed the participants about the BIMP-EAGA Food Basket Concept wherein its main objectives is to ensure long-term food security in BIMP-EAGA sub-regions, optimize the potential of agro-based and fisheries products for export and to promote sustainable livelihoods of farmers and fishersfolk, Sampulna said. 

The BIMP-EAGA Food Basket Concept was one of the agreements derived during the 8th BIMP-EAGA Cluster Meeting last April 7-9, 2010 held in General Santos City. It is seen as a way to optimize land and water resource use for food production, address adverse impact of climate change to food security and ensure ecosystem and environmental protection, he added. 

During the workshop, the participants also discussed the status on the preparation of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Manual for BIMP-EAGA. The said manual will cover the Philippine Forestry, Protected Areas, Mining and Ecotourism, among others, Sampulna added.
(muc/PIA-Caraga)