PIA News Service - Monday, March 8, 2010

News Feature: The success of RCDC-Caraga’s hosting of Mindanao Coop Summit
By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY – The success of this year’s 5th Mindanao Cooperative Summit held on March 4-5, 2010 at Almont Hotel’s Inland Resort, this city is considered one of the biggest achievements of the Regional Cooperative Development Council (RCDC) Caraga. 

On the afternoon of March 4, from the 1,200 expected participants, there were around 900 participants/delegates who have registered from different regions all over Mindanao. 

At 7:00 o’clock in the evening, fireworks display was presented and followed with a cultural show at the same venue. All the participants/delegates especially those from other regions were amazed of the presentation showing Caraganons great culture through its dances and songs.

On the following day (March 5), a thanksgiving mass was celebrated by most of the participants/delegates officiated by Fr. Mar DJ Arenas, former chairman of the Philippine Federation of Credit Cooperatives (PFCCO) and Metro South Coop Bank, and founding chairman of the Ating Koop Parylist, who is also the keynote speaker of the said coop summit. Afterwhich, the registration of participants continued.

Fr. Arenas discussed the total quality leadership in credit cooperatives. He stressed that Mindanao is the coop capital of the Philippines. “Coop members should always bear in mind the seven (7) coop principles and that a cooperative should acquire the following qualities: voluntary and open membership; democratic control of members; economic participation of members; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for the community,” Fr. Arenas said.

Along with the summit program is the Mindanao Coop Movement: Celebrating its successes/Best practices and lessons by various legitimate coop operating in Mindanao.

Coop Life Mutual Services (COOP-CLIMBS) Chairman Isagani Daba, presented the success story of First Community Cooperative (FICCO). He cited that FICCO never hesitate to adapt with changes and great challenges. Chair Daba also pointed out that FICCO also believes of its coop values properly appreciated and internalized as key to grassroots empowerment. 

Meanwhile, Philippine Federation of Credit Coops (PFCCO) National Chairman Atty. Proculo Sarmen discussed its coop’s achievements and success story. “PFCCO is one of the biggest coops of the country today,” Atty. Sarmen said.

Atty. Sarmen further said that PFCCO is continuing its advocacy for peace and development in every community.  

Also, Paglaum Multi Purpose Cooperative Chairman Gadwin Handumon, bared its programs and projects that benefited by its members thru there services like savings, loans, insurances and other programs contributed help to all its members. 

Gadwin also said that their coop helps provide light to off-grid areas thru micro-solar energy. “Let us help our co-coop members grow and enhance their skills so we could continue providing our services to others,” he added.

Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) Chairperson Lecira Juarez emphasized that as per Republic Act 9520 (extensive exemption of tax to cooperatives), coop members are benefited but still should have to follow implementing rules and regulations set by CDA and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). 

“Cooperatives are not just tax payers but also tax makers…CDA will continue to support coop members. We have strong discipline within ourselves as cooperatives that will lead us to a more progressive coop members,” chair Juarez added.

Right after the sharing of success stories by various coops, an open forum was conducted.

At the forum proper, second Vice Chairman of the Host Execom Committee Chad Villamor served as moderator while there were different issues and concerns raised by the delegates from different regions. 

Meanwhile, CDA chair Juarez satisfactorily answered the questions raised during the forum. 

For other coops that have complicated concerns, chair Juarez requested them to put their concerns into writing and CDA will help them identify responsible agencies for their concerns. 

With the successful hosting of the 5th Mindanao Coop Summit, RCDC is optimistic that more coops will join in all the activities set by the council. (PIA-Caraga) 

POPCOM promotes women’s welfare 

BUTUAN CITY – Empowering women and improving their economic status advanced by the Commission on Population in this celebration of Women’s Month.

This year’s event is anchored on the theme “Babae, tagumpay ka ng bayan”, which focused on women’s achievement despite various gender disparities.

In its various advocacy activities, POPCOM explained that advancing gender equality and empowering women is essential for sustainable economic growth within the family, community and all spheres of society.  

Studies showed that when women are supported and empowered, their families are healthier, more children go to school, family’s income increase. 

POPCOM pointed-out that women who actively participate in the labor force can help augment family’s income, regulate their fertility, and have fewer and healthier children.

RD Camilo S. Pangan, in a recent conference, emphasized that the more educated a mother is, the more she has a chance to be employed and empowered herself to be freed from poverty and any forms of violence and discrimination.

The 2008 National Demographic & Health Survey revealed that more educated mothers have better health care, better access to resources through earning opportunities and are significantly more likely to use contraception to space births.

On the contrary, survey said that women in poor households had the tendency to bear more children than those who are well-off, the result further shows that women who did not attend school at all bear an average of 5 children, about twice the total fertility rate (TFR) of those with college education.

The observance of Women’s Role in History Month every March is mandated through Proclamation No. 277. Meanwhile, Republic Act 6949 declares March 8 of every year as a working special holiday to be known as National Women’s Day. (Angie Balen- Antonio, POPCOM-13/ PIA-Caraga)

CCPD extends financial assistance to kins of slain soldiers, wounded civilian and soldiers in Agusan del Sur ambush 

BUTUAN CITY (March 8)– The Department of National Defense (DND), through the Caraga Council for Peace and Development (CCPD), on Monday extended financial assistance to dependents of four slain peacemakers and one wounded civilian during an ambush last month at Barangay La Fortuna, in Veruela town, Agusan del Sur province. 

The wounded Army soldiers were also provided the financial assistance which was held in time with Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos’ birthday at Bishop’s Palace in Barangay Ampayon here. Bishop Pueblos is the founding chair of CCPD. 

During Monday's awarding program, the CCPD condemned the inhumane and barbaric acts of the communist-New People’s Army (NPA) at Barangay La Fortuna in Veruela town last Feb. 24. 

“The CCPD is deeply upset with such coward act,” the CCPD’s statement said. 

The CCPD statement also said “It only shows that the group (NPA) is already desperate as the government troops have won over them during the series of operations, development and peace programs in the different areas in the region.” 

“It is hard to believe that there are people who can do such cruel act, victimizing even innocent civilian. It is also sad to note that our peacemakers, who are advocating peace throughout the region were among those who were killed,” it added. 

The church group said the cruel act is a “clear violation of human rights”. The CCPD said this series of atrocities must be put an end. 

Killed during that ambush incident were 1Lt. Isagani Villasis, Sgt. Jose Balaba, Pfc. Alejandro Dao-on and Pfc. Zenn Stephen Cloma. 

Wounded civilian was nine-year-old Rosejean Tomonan. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

PIA News Service - Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mindanao power crisis threatens to lay off 1,000 electric coops workers

BUTUAN CITY (March 6) – The power crisis in Mindanao is likely to lay off about 1,000 employees and workers of 27 electric cooperatives in the island.

In an interview with top officials of various electric cooperatives in Mindanao, work scheduling, rotation of works and even temporary retrenchment might take effect to avert further losses if the power curtailment imposed by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) and National Power Corp. (Napocor) to various cooperatives will continue unabated.

The NGCP and Napocor are imposing two,six or hours rotating power curtailment to different electric cooperatives in Mindanao since last month due to power deficiency.

However, the fallback position, particularly the retrenchment of workers, will only be done and effected if upon approval of the Energy Regulatory board (ERC).

“This only happens if the situation will worsen. We also abide to our cooperative board and ERC decision based on our recommendation to avert further losses,” said Horacio T. Santos, general manager of the 97,000 billed consumers of the Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative (Aneco).

At least 43 percent of the major industries and the electric cooperatives have lost millions of pesos since the start of power curtailment in Agusan del Norte and Butuan City, the area where big companies and regional offices in the Caraga region operate.

If the power crisis in the southern island also worsened, the region’s largest electric cooperative is also planning to buy two megawatts of electricity from the 100- megawatt Nasipit Power Barge, which has just been bought by the Aboitiz group on March 1, this year.

The Davao del Sur Electric Coop. (Dasureco) plans to retrench some of their workers to avoid further losses.

Jesus Dela Victoria, Dasureco general manager, said the firm lost at least 50 percent of its revenues even before the NGCP started implementing the load curtailment scheme as Mindanao’s hydropower plants lost water due to the dry spell.

Officials of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) also voiced the same strategy and planned to retrench workers to avert further losses.

However, Amreco officials blew their top when government allegedly planned to reduce their power allocation to only 50 percent if the power situation worsen.

This development came out during an emergency meeting with Amreco and Napocor early this week in Cagayan de Oro City.

"Imagine the implications of this move. This means that 50 percent of revenues from power consumers will be gone. If our coop's load is reduced it will also reduce more or less the load of every electric coop, every private power company, even that of industrial customers," said Amreco president Sergio Dagooc.

As this developed, the latest NGCP advisory said that the STEAG Power Inc.'s coal-fired power plant has increased its capability from 150 MWs to 210 MWs.

Another plant, Aboitiz Power Corp.’s Therma Marine Unit 2, was already synchronized to the grid on Friday. It is now generating 47 MWs.

However, the NGCP’s advisory said the total available capacity of 820 MWs in the Mindanao grid would still be insufficient to meet the peak demand of 1,470 MWs.

The NGCP said the water elevation at Lake Lanao was at 699.06 meters, which is below the critical level of 699.15 meters.

Technical men from NGCP, Napocor and some electric cooperatives said that if the low water level will continue in Lake Lanao and Bukidnon, hydro-electric power plants might force to shutdown to avert further damages of its turbines.

In a related development, the Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry together with the PHIVIDEC Industries Association (PIE-MO) and the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Industries (COCI) on Saturday appealed to concerned government offices to address the present power supply problem in Mindanao to avert further losses.

The group cited the need to immediately repair the Agus 2-Kibawe 138 kilovolt (kv) transmission line and the Maramag-Bunawan 230kv backbone project.

The Oro Chamber and its partner organizations expect that the government will also give the same attention to Agus 5 as well as strongly campaign for additional investments into the power sector of the island.

The Chamber will be presenting its paper on the non privatization of the Agus and Pulangi hydro electric power plants to the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Region 10 on March 11, this year for possible endorsement. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


UNDP exec: Good governance is key to RP peace and development

MARFIL, Rosario, Agusan del Sur - United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director Renaud Meyer challenged residents and local officials of Barangay Marfil to disseminate information to other barangays in Agusan del Sur about their successes in their local peace and development initiatives and efforts.

"By doing so, you can make a statement that amidst all support given by the UNDP, the New Zealand Government and even from your own national government, it is always that good governance practices exerted by local barangay officials is key to success for peace and development efforts," Meyer told Barangay Marfil residents and officials who gathered at the Barangay Social Hall here.

He said UNDP would be most happy if through the experiences Barangay Marfil learned in peace and development efforts, local residents and officials themselves can help duplicate their successes to other communities in the province if not in the whole of Caraga Region.

“I am challenging you to become ambassadors for peace and development, contaminate that spirit of peace within you to others, let them understand how it works and how it will work for them for today’s generations and the generations to come,” Meyer said.

He added that truly efficient, corruption-free, relevant and good governance especially in marginalized communities has always been the barometer in achieving peace, unity and progress in the Philippines and elsewhere and that resources are only tools in achieving goals.

Secretary Dureza who is National Programme Director for the UN-GoP Act for Peace admitted that the program cannot provide assistance to all barangays in Agusan del Sur due to limited resources to fund various programs under Act For Peace.

The UN-GoP Act for Peace Programme has identified 37 barangays out of total 1,301 barangays in Caraga Region as Peace and Development Communities (PDCs). Of the 37 PDCs for entire Caraga Region, eight are in Agusan del Sur.

According to Act for Peace, a PDC is a marginalized, conflict affected community which is in the process of transformation with the help of various development partners. It may consist of a barangay or a barangay and adjacent households marked by a convergence of peace-building and development activities.

Dureza said the Act for Peace Programme in the country will end by December this year and it will now depend on partner countries whether to extend the program.

Among assistance provided to Barangay Marfil were; construction of Barangay Health Station, provision of medical equipment, establishment of Botika Sa Barangay, installation of potable water system and establishment of rice trading center. These projects were priorities set by by the community themselves in their Barangay Development Plan that they formulated using peace-sensitive and participatory resource appraisal approaches.

The program itself and funding efforts were managed by UNDP, the Act for Peace Programme being implemented by the Mindanao Economic Development Council or MEDCO, in partnership with concerned local government units of Caraga Region. The programme is also supported by the governments of Australia, Spain and European Union.

In her speech before mammoth crowd here who attended the short program for the dignitaries visit, Agusan del Sur officials headed by Governor Maria Valentina Plaza thanked the donor countries, the New Zealand Ambassador, UNDP Country Director Meyer and Dureza for the assistance they give to Barangay Marfil.

Plaza has called on every Barangay Marfil resident and official to nurture peace not only for the present generation but for future generations to come.

She has given token and plagues of appreciation to the foreign dignitaries and to Secretary Dureza as way of thanking them.

For his part, New Zealand Ambassador Andrew Matheson told Barangay Marfil residents and local officials that his country is committed to promote peace and development in the Philippines particularly in Caraga Region.

He also challenged local officials and barangay residents to spread the culture of peace and the good news it brings to communities where unity is very much needed to attain not only inner peace but goodwill to mankind. (Ben Serrano/ PIA-Caraga)

PIA News Service - Friday, March 5, 2010

Power shortage in Mindanao now at 820-MW

BUTUAN CITY (March 5) - The power shortage in Mindanao now at 820 megawatts (MW).

In its latest advisory, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said that the total available capacity of 820-MW in the Mindanao grid would still be insufficient to meet the peak demand of 1,470 MW.

From 498 generation deficiency on Wednesday, the additional power supply increased after STEAG Power Incorporated and Aboitiz Power Corporation increased their respective capability on Thursday, the NGCP advisory said.

STEAG Power Inc.'s coal-fired power plant increased its capability from 150 MW to 210 MW.

Another plant of Aboitiz Power Corporation’s Therma Marine Unit 2, was already synchronized to the grid on Thursday. It is now generating 47 MW.

“However, the total available capacity in the Mindanao grid would still be insufficient to meet the peak demand,” added the advisory of NGCP Friday.

Thus power curtailment from four to eight hours is still in effect at various electric cooperatives in the southern island, it added.

To support power distribution, an estimated 112 big industrial companies spread all over the southern island already volunteered to de-load from the grid during peak hours, it said.

The state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor) also started the operation of the 35-MW diesel power plant in Iligan City Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco T. Matugas told PNA that his province is already badly affected by the power outages as they experienced eight to 12 hours brownout a day. “The situation is getting worse,” the official said. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

PIA News Service - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Feature News: Young Workers Feel the Heat of the Global Financial Crisis: Trade Unions to the Rescue

Manila (March 3) - The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) with assistance from the International Trade Union Confederation-Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP) will hold a two-day National Youth Workshop for Decent Work under Global Crisis on March 12-13, 2010 at Kimberly Hotel Tagaytay. 

Around 30 motivated and dedicated youth representatives, leaders and youth advocates from TUCP affiliates across industries including manufacturing, public sector, automotive, services, electronics, media and informal sector and youth partners in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will participate in the program.

 “It is important to work directly with young people. This conference is a perfect setting to interact, hear young people’s voice, their experiences, lessons learned, challenges and successes,” says TUCP General Secretary Ernesto Herrera. 

This activity will give young people opportunities to participate and contribute in workshops covering topics such as youth employment in times of crisis, youth in trade unions, the ITUC-AP Youth Charter and local actions, and accessing assistance funds and programs on youth, among other issues. 

“This conference is very timely and needed especially that young people have been disproportionately affected by the global financial crisis.” 

“We need to invest more attention and priority on youth to harness their potentials in nation building. Many of TUCP programs target young people and their families, including employment facilitation and training, reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, human trafficking, youth leadership, climate change and green jobs, child labor monitoring,” added Herrera. 

"I look forward to attending the conference. This is a great opportunity to meet other youth with similar interests and challenges. The topics are pertinent especially on accessing assistance funds and programs for youth,” says Ann Dumaraog, Union Secretary for Education of Kilusan sa Jolibee.

This conference will highlight discussions on the challenges that young people face in the labor market especially during difficult economic times and explore ways of addressing these challenges, and particularly promoting the rights and conditions of young people at work.

Experts on youth employment issues from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Japanese Embassy of Manila and the ITUC-AP will provide information on government, intergovernmental and trade union responses to the crisis and the steps that had been taken to protect and promote youth employment and their rights. 

"The TUCP and ITUC-AP is looking forward to continuing their commitment to implement measures to improve the actual participation and contribution of young people in youth employment activities and decision-making processes and increase their involvement in trade union activities,” concluded Herrera. (ALF/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

SSS to condone penalties on unremitted, delinquent employer contributions

BUTUAN CITY (03 March) – Social Security System (SSS) recently announced its implementing rules and regulations of the SSS Condonation Law of 2009. 

In a memorandum circular issued by Romulo Neri, SSS President and CEO, all employers and employees identified were informed as to who may avail of the program.  

Republic Act 9903 otherwise known as “Social Security Condonation Law of 2009”, grants SSS a one-time authority to condone penalties on unremitted or delinquent contributions by employers.

The law covered any employer who is delinquent or has not remitted all contributions due and payable to the SSS, including those with pending cases either before the Social Security Commission, courts or Office of the Prosecutor involving collection of contributions and/or penalties, may within six months from the effectivity of the law to: (a) remit said contributions; or (b) submit a proposal to pay the same in installments, subject to the implementing rules and regulations which the Social Security Commission may prescribe, provided, that the delinquent employer submits the corresponding collection lists together with the remittance or proposal to pay the installments, provided, further, that upon approval and payment in full or in installments of contributions due and payable to the SSS, all such pending cases filed against the employer shall be withdrawn without prejudice to the refiling of the case in the event the employer fails to remit in full the required delinquent contributions or defaults in the payment of any installment under the approved proposal.

RA 9903 also stated, in the event that a delinquent employer chooses to submit an installment proposal, SSS shall give due course to approve and grant the same, subject to the implementing rules and regulations as the Social Security Commission shall prescribe.

However, the employer shall remit, upon submission of the installment proposal, a downpayment of not less than five percent of its total contribution delinquency. Also, the employer shall remit the balance thereof in equal monthly installments within a period not exceeding 48 months from the date of approval of the proposal, provided, that the installment payments shall bear an interest of three percent per annum.

The penalty provided under Section 22(a) of Republic Act 8282 shall be condoned by virtue of the SSS Condonation Law of 2009 when and until all the delinquent contributions are remitted by the employer to SSS.

In case the employer fails to remit in full the required delinquent contributions, or defaults in the payment of any installment under the approved proposal, within the availment period provided in RA 9903, the penalties are deemed reimposed from the time the contributions first become due, to accrue until the delinquent account is paid in full. For the reason of equity, however, employers who settled arrears in contributions before the effectivity of the law shall likewise have their accrued penalties waved.

With these developments, SSS Butuan Branch is calling all delinquent employers to have their penalties condoned, pay in full or installment their SSS contribution delinquencies. For inquiries, visit the SSS Servicing Branch for details or log on to www.sss.gov.ph. The condonation is open until July 31, 2010 only.
(Robert E. Roperos, PIA-13)

CEBUANO NEWS: Women’s Month Celebration gipatigayon sa Caraga 
BUTUAN CITY (03 March) - Ang Rehiyon sa Caraga nakigduyog sa selebrasyon sa kababaihan isip dakong pahat sa natampong partisipasyon ngadto sa kumunidad, himoon ang pag-obserbar sa “Women’s Month Celebration” sulod sa bulan sa Marso, ni’ng syudad.
Agi’g pakig-alayon sa Regional Development Council Gender and Development Coordinating Council (RDC-GADCC) gilusad ang nagkadaiyang aktibidades alang sa paghatag sa ka-importansya sa atong kababayen-an lukop nasyon.
Subay sa Akta Republika 6949, “An Act to Declare March 8 of Every Year as a Working Special Holiday to be Known as National Women’s Day” nga giluwatan ni kanhi Presidente Corazon C. Aquino niadtong April 10, 1990. 
Si Chairperson Commission on Human Rights Regional Director Atty. Marilyn M. Pintor ang nanguna sa Women’s Month Celebration, matud niini nga adunay mga programa nga ipahigayon isip pagpakabana sa katilingban aron ilunsad ang katungod sa kababayen-an.
Tukion ang mga nahimong achievements ug hatagan sa patas nga pagtagad sa kumunidad ug mga natampo alang sa kauswagan ug kalamboan sa nasud.
Luyo sa mga pagpangabuso ug kasong pagpandagmal sa kababayen-an apil na kabataan gitutokan sa Komisyon sa katungod, kapulisan, sector sa kababayen-an nga nagpakabana aron makabaton sa katarungan ug malikay sa deskriminasyon ang mga biktima.
Gisulong ang temang “Babae, Tagumpay ka ng Bayan,” nagsentro sa mga nakab-ot nga pangandoy sa kababayen-an isip inahan sa pamilya ug kaabag sa katilingban. (PIA-Caraga)

Northern, Northeastern Mindanao Task Force’s El Niño prepares mitigation plan 
BUTUAN CITY (March 3) – The Regional Task Forces (TF) on the El Niño phenomenon of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Northern and Northeastern Mindanao regions were reactivated Wednesday to conduct mitigating measures on the dry spell that started besetting the region. 
Agriculturists and technical men started lining up mitigating plans at their respective DA regional offices to counter on the effects of the drought. 
The reactivation of Task Force El Niño was recently ordered by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to enhance inter-agency coordination in the formulation and implementation of measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the said phenomenon on the people. 
Members of the task force include all the regional directors of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Department Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) and the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council (RAFC). 
Among the functions of the task force are the formulation of a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan to help the people cope with the phenomenon and minimize its disastrous effects and regularly monitor the implementation of such plan. 
It is also aimed to conduct a massive information campaign to educate the public on the phenomenon and the needed interventions to reduce its expected adverse impact and enlist the assistance and support of other government agencies or instrumentalities and the civil society in pursuance of its functions and objectives. 
The task force will likewise identify possible funding sources to implement its activities in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). 
In a related development, the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) 900th Air Weather Group is setting up preparations for cloud seeding operations to induce the occurrence of rain in Region 10. 
DA Region 10 Regional Director Lealyn A. Ramos said the Northern Mindanao El Niño Task Force identified for cloud seeding watershed of major reservoirs used for irrigation and in areas where the crop stage would require water. 
The priority areas are those near the river basins of Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur and the Pulangi River in Bukidnon due to need to bring to the required levels of water that drive the turbines of the hydro-electric plants. 
Lake Lanao in Lanao provinces and Pulangi River are the sources of Mindanao power grid that already seriously suffered low water level for almost two months now. 
Meanwhile, at least P149.758 million will be needed by the DA to mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon in Northern Mindanao. 
Different sources from members Regional Task Force on the El Niño already recommended the need to implement intervention programs on the following anticipated problems: reduction of irrigation water, occurrence of pests and diseases, high prices of food commodities due to low production and indiscriminate slaughter/disposal of breeding animals. 
The other mitigating measures include: the implementation of water rotational methods in the national irrigation systems (NIS) and establishment of drainage re-use systems and water transitory structures by the National Irrigation Administration. 
Lending of pump and engine sets to El Nino affected farmers and fisher folk organizations until the duration of the El Niño episode and technical assistance to LGUs in the conduct of pest surveillance and control measures that may occur as the dry condition and warmer temperature progresses through the summer, by the Regional Crop Protection Center. 
As of January 15 this year, a total of 238,622 hectares of land in the region have been planted to crops of which 97,521 hectares are vulnerable with a projected production losses of 211,712 metric tons, DA officials said. 
For livestock, the vulnerable population are 120,689,850 heads with a projected production losses of 20,068 MT. 
While for poultry, the vulnerable population is expected to reach 224,504,745 heads with a projected production losses of 2,245,047 MT. 
The gradual decrease in sea surface temperature is expected to still be within the El Niño threshold and likely to sustain its moderate strength until its mature stage which will last up to June 2010. (PNA) 

New Zealand reaffirms commitment to peace, development of Caraga region
ROSARIO, Agusan del Sur (March 3) - New Zealand Ambassador Andrew Matheson together with Renaud Meyer, country director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will start their three-day swing in Caraga region starting Wednesday to reaffirm their commitment to peace and development in Caraga region. 
The New Zealand and UNDP officials will meet with key leaders in the region and visit communities in Agusan del Sur and Butuan City to reaffirm New Zealand’s commitment to work with local stakeholders. 
The New Zealand Government, through the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), is a key donor partner of the Government of the Philippines–United Nation Action for Conflict Transformation (GoP-UN ACT) for Peace Programme in assisting the 37 Peace and Development Communities (PDCs) in Caraga region in their transformation process. 
Along with Mindanao Super Region Champion Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, Ambassador Matheson, Meyer and Dureza will turn over various projects on community economic enterprise and improving access to health services in Barangay Marfil in Rosario town, Agusan del Sur. They will also visit the Manila de Bugabus Elementary School of Peace in PDC Manila de Bugabus, Butuan City. These efforts were implemented in partnership with the local government units. 
Marfil and Manila de Bugabus are among the 278 Peace and Development Communities (PDCs) that are being supported by the ACT for Peace Programme in Southern Philippines, 37 of which are in Caraga region. 
A PDC is a conflict-affected or conflict-vulnerable community that is undergoing change processes towards sustainable peace and development through the help of various development partners. 
“This visit affords us excellent opportunity to assess the extent of our initiatives and efforts made by our communities in pushing for peace and development in Caraga,” said Dureza, who also serves as the ACT for Peace national programme director. 
Managed by UNDP, the ACT for Peace Programme is implemented by the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) in partnership with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The Programme is also supported by the governments of Australia, Spain and the European Union. 
Among the assistance being provided to PDC Marfil are construction of barangay health station, provision of medical equipment, establishment of “botika ng barangay”, installation of potable water system and establishment of rice trading. These projects were priorities set by the community in their Barangay Development Plan that they formulated using peace-sensitive and participatory resource appraisal approaches. 
“The activities pursued under the ACT for Peace Programme in this region demonstrate firm commitment of both the Government and donor partners including the government of New Zealand to lay the solid foundation for lasting peace in Mindanao,” Dureza added. 
The GoP-UN ACT for Peace Programme is implemented by the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) in partnership with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Government and supported by the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the European Union. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) serves as the managing agency for the Programme ACT for Peace. (PNA) 
BCBMPC Launches “Pinoy Coop ATM”
The launching of its “Pinoy Coop ATM” on February 23, 2010 at main branch in Magallanes, Agusan del Norte is another milestone for BCBMPC in finding better ways to serve and address the needs of its ARB and non-ARB members.
Hon. Congressman Edilmero A. Amante, District II Representative and RD Faisar Ali Mambuay, DAR CARAGA Regional Director with PARO II Andre B. Atega of DAR-Agusan del Norte cut the ribbon of the Pinoy Coop ATM of BCBMPC with the assistance of Mayor Carlito C. Cumba, Municipality of Carmen and Mr. Leopoldo Cabiad, in behalf of RD Manuela E. Pelaes of CDA – Caraga Region.
“We are proud to announce that BCBMPC is now on its peak of their dreams being the only Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative in CARAGA Region having an ATM project installed and operationalized”, DAR Regional Director Faisar Mambuay said.
Meanwhile, PARO II Andre B. Atega congratulates BCBMPC for harvesting the yields on the impact of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Agusan del Norte. He reiterated the spirit of unity, one of the reasons why the coop stands still over a decade.
The recently installed Pinoy Coop ATM is a dream come true to the members of BCBMPC through the effort of Chairman Jimmy L. Beray in partnership with Mindanao Alliance Self-help Societies – Southern Philippines Education Cooperative Center (MASS-SPECC).
For his part, Mr. Jimmy L. Beray sincerely commended DAR Agusan del Norte through their European-funded Agrarian Reform Support Project (ARSP), granted a loan 13 years ago used to start a business.
At least 4,790 members stand to benefit from BCBMPC Pinoy Coop ATM comprising of five (5) branches located in Butuan City, Cabadbaran City, Buenavista and satellite office at Langihan, Butuan City. 
The Pinoy Coop ATM has link 24 hours, 7 days a week to any Megalink and BancNet ATM Machines. BCBMPC members can now withdraw their loans using any ATM worldwide.
The BCBMPC is one of the cooperatives assisted by the Department of Agrarian Reform of Agusan del Norte in 1994 with 110 lowly-paid crab hunters and fishpond workers started from humble beginnings and now operated a bank-like-operation.
Now, the cooperative has grown to P79,043,404.14 Million total assets and seen to further expand its coverage to include Surigao del Norte soon. (Gil E. Miranda, Dar-Agusan del Norte/ PIA-Caraga)

PIA News Service - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

BFP-Caraga leads observance of Fire Prevention Month in the region

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) - The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Caraga region led other government and private agencies in the observance of the fire prevention month at this region’s capital city Monday morning. 

Stakeholders from the government and non-government sectors participated in the 7 a.m. mass at Rizal Park and motorcade around the city’s main thoroughfares to kick off the event. 

The fire stations and volunteer fire brigades from different parts of the region also participated in the ceremony, personally headed by Senior Supt. Warlito Daus, regional director of BFP-Caraga. 

Mayor Democrito Plaza ll led the local officials in the program. 

According to Director Daus, the annual advocacy aims to foster cooperation, commitment and linkages as forefront in public safety service which is the main focus of the Fire department. 

March every year is being observed as the fire prevention month pursuant to Presidential Proclamation which was signed on Nov. 17, 1967 by then president Ferdinand Marcos. 

This year's celebration is anchored on the theme: "Sustaining Fire Prevention through Active Community Participation." (muc/PIA-Caraga)

Business, political leaders want PGMA's emergency powers to solve Mindanao energy crisis

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) – Mindanao power stakeholders,including congressmen and governors, have called for the granting of emergency powers to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo due to worsening power crisis in the southern island. 

Seeing the need for a drastic move to solve power shortage from 6 to 8 hours a day in Mindanao, the Mindanao power stakeholders and local leaders urged Congress for an emergency session to address the immediate solution to the worsening power crisis which already badly affected thousands of residents, business sector especially major industries. 

“To purchase power generator set will take many days or months and the President need this power,” said Surigao del Sur Gov. Vicente Pimentel. 

Surigao del Norte Representatives Francisco T. Matugas and Guillermo Romarate also voiced their sentiments on the ongoing power curtailment imposed by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). 

“At present, we are suffering 8 hours power curtailment in our province particularly in island towns,” Rep. Matugas said, adding “ the President should need this emergency power now”. 

Surigao del Norte Rep. Philip Pichay and Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino also supported the call for the emergency power of the President. 

In a power stakeholders meeting called by Presidential Adviser for Mindanao Jesus G. Dureza over the weekend in Southern Mindanao frontier city of Davao, the island’s largest Davao Light and Power Company also recommended an immediate congressional action, granting President Arroyo the emergency powers to address the worsening power crisis. 

"Through the Mindanao Electric Power Alliance we are willing to come up with an urgent resolution calling for it," said Davao Light and Power Company official Manuel Orig said. 

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 provides an electric power crisis provision allowing the President of the Philippines to establish additional generating capacity, as the Congress may authorize. 

The proposal to declare Mindanao under a state of emergency first came out from Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez after the NGCP announced that Mindanao might face a shortfall of four megawatts on May 10, in time for the national and local elections due to low water level of the Mindanao grid in Lake Lanao and Pulangi River in Bukidnon. 

Dureza welcomed the proposed resolution by the Mindanao Electric Power Alliance. 

However, he was apprehensive that the public might view it as a political spin. 

"It is very important to set the facts clearly first by telling the public the real situation of Mindanao power. This way, we could convince our legislators that a drastic move is needed to address this crisis," added Sec. Dureza. 

Initially, Dureza, Mindanao Super Region Champion and Presidential Assistant for Mindanao, recommended for the establishment of an information desk where all concerned agencies may dispatch information regarding power crisis to reach the general public. 

Meanwhile, the Mindanao Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce will also come up their resolution to help alleviate the worsening power crisis in the southern island. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

100,000 residents of Caraga coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean flee homes for fear of possible tsunami 

SURIGAO CITY (March 2) – Fearing a possible tsunami onslaught following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Chile on Saturday, some 100,000 residents of coastal areas in the twin provinces of Surigao, Surigao City, Siargao and Dinagat Islands have evacuated to safer places. 

Initiated by local government unit (LGU) officials in the provinces, cities, towns and barangays facing the Pacific Ocean, the residents sought refuge near the mountains and other higher grounds, schools, churches, day care and health centers and gymnasiums. 

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Caraga reported on Sunday morning that the evacuation happened in the coastal towns of Lianga, Barobo, Carrascal and Cortes in Surigao del Sur, island towns in Surigao del Norte and five barangays in Surigao City. 

“They started their evacuation since last night,” said OCD Regional Director Blanche T. Gobenciong. 

“This is the initiative of our local officials despite that our advisory is only to stay alert,” she said. 

Residents living along the coastline of General Luna, Pilar, San Isidro, Burgos, and Dapa in Siargao Island already evacuated to higher grounds following the advisories made by their local chief executives and have decided to do preemptive evacuation, Gobenciong said. 

Surigao del Norte Congressmen Francisco T. Matugas and Guillermo Romarate, Surigao del Sur Governor Vicente Pimentel, Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Ace Barbers and Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra already alerted their respective disaster councils for a possible tsunami onslaught. 

As this developed, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Surigao raised “Tsunami Alert Level 2” in the eastern seaboard coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean. 

Gobenciong said people living along the coastal areas and fishermen are advised to stay away from the shorelines for possible unusual wave activity. 

“Those whose houses are very near the coastal areas and shorelines are also advised to go further inland,” she added. 

The OCD Caraga and Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) directed all disaster councils spread all over the region, specially those in the coastal areas, to implement preparedness measures. 

Shipping lines are also advised to ensure that their respective vessels stay away from the possible path of a tsunami. 

Meanwhile, thousands of residents in the east coast of Tandag City, Surigao del Sur and Mati City in Davao Oriental have moved to higher grounds as of 10 a.m. Sunday due to the tsunami alert issued by the Phivolcs. 

Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat said many residents, especially those leaving near seas, did not sleep because of the tsunami warning. 

She said the city's disaster teams, as well as the Coast Guard, have already been put on alert. 

Mayor Rabat added that many residents living along the white sand beaches of the village of Dahican have already moved to higher and safer grounds after noting a rise in the water level in the area. 

In Tarragona, a southern tip town of Davao Oriental which also faces the Pacific Ocean, several residents have already evacuated to higher grounds, it was learned. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

5.0 magnitude quake hits southern tip city of Mati in Southern Mindanao

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) - Residents in Pacific Ocean facing-city of Mati in Davao Oriental were rattled when a 5.0 magnitude tremor struck that southern tip city before noon Monday, it was learned. 

However, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) reported that there were no reports of damage or injuries from the undersea quake that occurred 16 kilometers northwest of Mati, capital city of Davao Oriental. 

The 5.0 magnitude earthquake happened at 11:15 in the morning, said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). 

It hit at a depth of 001.0 kilometer. 

The epicenter was estimated at 07.06 kilometers north of Mati City, Phivolcs said. 

An intensity 2 tremor was felt in neighboring areas such as Bislig City, in Surigao del Sur. 

Last month, residents in Surigao del Sur were also rattled when a 4.7 magnitude earthquake also took place, 97 kilometers off Surigao City. No reported damage or hurt during that incident. 

The Philippines sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

1,500 delegates to participate in 5th Mindanao Cooperative Summit in Butuan City

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) - At least 1,500 delegates coming from various parts of Mindanao are set to participate in the forthcoming two-day 5th Mindanao Cooperative Summit to be held at downtown hotel, resort and convention center at this region’s capital city on March 4 and 5, this year. 

The various committees from the Regional Cooperative Development Council (RCDC)-Caraga region and Philippine Information Agency (PIA) announced Tuesday that all preparations are all already set for the big cooperative confab. 

Top cooperative leaders in the southern island already pledged their two-day attendance. 

Francis Loque, chairperson of RCDC Caraga region and also chair of the summit’s host executive committee, led the final coordinating conference on Tuesday and lay down preparations. 

This year’s 5th Mindanao Cooperative Summit carries the theme: “Mindanao Coops in the Face of Present Day Challenges: Outsmarting Impacts of Global Financial Crisis”, where RCDC Caraga will host the summit for the first time. 

The summit aims to provide an avenue for cooperative stakeholders in different regions in Mindanao to enrich their understanding on the current trends of outsmarting impacts of global financial crisis and create a synergistic response to its challenges, Loque said. 

Also, the summit will bring together cooperative leaders from different regions as well as guests from all over the country. 

“It will be a rare learning opportunity as seasoned speakers will talk and share best practices and success experiences as examples to develop and strengthen cooperatives in Mindanao,” he added. 
Aside from cooperative concern, the delegates in that two-day summit are also expected to tackle the current problem on El Nino and Mindanao power crisis. 

“Our main agenda of this summit is how to strengthen Mindanao cooperatives towards development and progress,” said Region Xlll PIA Regional Director Abner Caga. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

P100-M Tubay-Lake Mainit circumferential road set to commence in Agusan del Norte 

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) - A P100-million concreting of Tubay-Lake Mainit circumferential road is set to commence before end of this month in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, a top public works official said Tuesday. 

The project in Lake Mainit, the fourth largest fresh water lake in the Philippines, is part of the Lake Mainit Development Plan. 

The concreting of lake Mainit circumferential road which stretches from Bangunay to the boundary of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte has a total of 20.24 kilometers. Only 3.357 kilometers has already been concreted while the remaining 16.883 kilometer is still gravel road. 

Town officials bounding the Lake Mainit said the concreting of this road is very essential to attract local and foreign visitors, particularly tourists, into taking an unforgettable nature trip in this eastern side of Caraga region. 

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional director of Caraga region Dr. Evelyn T. Barroso said the initial P50 million of the P100-million fund is set to be released anytime. 

“The ground works of the concreting of this circumferential road project will start before the end of this month,” assured Director Barroso. 

Initially, the contractor will conduct rock excavation, sub-base courses and earthworks of the 5.5 kilometers Tubay-Lake Mainit circumferential road, added the region’s DPWH chief. 

Meanwhile, the P628-million road construction of the Lingig (Surigao del Sur) to Boston (Davao Oriental) regional boundary section went into high gear and expected to be completed by June 30 this year, said Director Barroso. 

All earth-moving equipments of the contractor, construction engineers and workers were already mobilized after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally conducted an on-site inspection late last month. 

In another development, the Regional Development Council (RDC) announced a P212.17-million Butuan-Cagayan de Oro- Iligan Road, Butuan City Section project. 

In a full-membership RDC meeting in Surigao City last week, the RDC said the road project has a total length 16.16 kilometers consisting of 9.84 kilometers asphalt overlay and 5.55 kilometers reconstruction. 

The funding is part of the three tranches proposed $ 1.003 billion Asian Development Bank (ADB) Road Sector Improvement Project (RSIP), the RDC added. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

Residents in Surigao provinces, islands heave sigh of relief after Tsunami scare 

SURIGAO CITY (March 2) - Thousands of Surigaonons including local officials heaved a sigh of relief late Sunday afternoon after the government lifted the tsunami alert. 

Several residents went back to their respective homes late Sunday afternoon while others did so Monday morning. 

The provincial, municipal and city government of Surigao del Norte and Surigao City mobilized several vehicles and motor boats to ferry the evacuees back home. Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Ace Barbers and Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra also distributed some provisions to the evacuees. 

Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco T. Matugas who personally conducted a town-to-town and island-to-island inspection of his constituents since early Sunday morning also heaved a sigh of relief when the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Surigao announced the lifting of Alert Level 2 late Sunday afternoon. 

“Thank God,” said Rep. Matugas. 

In Surigao del Sur, Governor Vicente Pimentel also led other provincial, municipal and city officials ferry their constituents back to their respective places, particularly those living along the coastal areas. 
In the southern tip city of Mati in Southern and Northeastern Mindanao, local officials also distributed snack packs consisting of bread and bottled water to returning residents in their respective homes from 16 coastal villages who had earlier camped out in sports gymnasiums and the provincial capitol. 

Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat offered vehicles to the evacuees and ferried them back home. 

“So far, life in Surigao provinces, especially of those living in the islands is slowly returning to normal,” declared Rep. Matugas. 

He said the evacuation of the residents and return home was orderly and systematic. 

The Surigao del Norte solon only noted that the people in Surigao have learned a lesson that is to be prepared to respond to any threat. 

Matugas said the residents voluntarily left their homes and sought higher ground and safer places, a normal thing to do for those who are living near the sea and facing a threat such as a tsunami. 

The Surigao del Norte solon suggested that disaster drills be sustained and all sectors must participate to avert loss of lives and properties. (muc/PIA-Caraga)