1.14.2012

PIA News Service - Sunday, January 15, 2012

OWWA-Caraga reports OFWs' problems

by Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY, Jan. 15 (PIA) -- An official of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Caraga Region said the most common problem of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the region is the non-remittance of salary to their family.

According to Ms. Annette Lovete, OWWA-Caraga has already entertained number of cases of those OFWs who are not remitting or even abandoned their family here.

She also said some of the family members who came to their office claimed that they were not able to contact and worst is they don’t know the whereabouts of their loved ones abroad.

However, Lovete said whereabouts of these OFWs can still be traced because of the membership data system implemented by OWWA.

With this, the official said family members must coordinate with OWWA for assistance on this matter. She added they must bring pertinent documents signifying the authenticity of the employment of the OFWs, as well as proofs that they are really relatives of the OFWs.

Lovete also reported cases involving OFWs who are suffering from illness abroad where the family asked assistance from OWWA for the immediate medical treatment or even immediate repatriation here in the country.

Same with OFWs who died abroad, OWWA finds way to repatriate the dead body by all means, Lovete said.

It can be recalled that OWWA-Caraga has extended assistance to a female OFW from Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur who died on August 15, 2011 in Kuwait, by repatriating her body until it was brought to her hometown for burial. Allegedly, she jumped on the sixth floor of the building where she was working as a receptionist.

With this development, the official urged families of OFWs in the region to contact the OWWA-Caraga should they experience problems.

The move of OWWA-Caraga signifies good governance and supports the Human Development program as highlighted in the Philippine Development Plan of the Aquino Administration. (PIA-Caraga)

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OWWA-Caraga offers reintegration program to OFWs

by Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY, Jan. 15 (PIA) -– The Regional Office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Caraga Region continuous to offer reintegration program to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the region.

In a radio interview this morning, Ms. Annette Lovete of OWWA-Caraga pointed out that OFWs who are members of OWWA can avail of a loan assistance to be used for investing business.

Lovete added the livelihood loan program is open for both active OFWs and those who were former OFWs but has been active members of OWWA. She said if they have at least one membership with OWWA, they can already avail of the program.

The program allows the qualified OFW applicants to a minimum of P300,000 an maximum of P2 million. “Thus, with this amount, they (OFW) can really start their business or livelihood,” Lovete said.

The official further said the interest rate is only 7.5 percent per annum. “This is lower compared to other finance institutions offering same program,” Lovete added.

Lovete stressed applicants should undergo Enterprise Development Training (EDT) and after the training, OWWA endorsed the applicants to its partner state banks: Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development bank of the Philippines (DBP) to ensure that the money borrowed will be used as what it is intended.

“The three-day EDT gives inputs to the applicants on values reintegration, financial literacy and how to handle business before the application will be granted,” she said.

Lovete also said OWWA will conduct constant monitoring of the business activities undertaken by the grantees to know whether or not the livelihood has helped them improved their lives, and to ensure that they can pay the money they borrowed plus the interest through their improved income.

The OWWA official explained further that the approving bank will really have to scrutinize the selection process to ensure that the grantee will succeed in whatever business or livelihood they will establish.

She said one of the requirements of the applicants is to submit a project proposal. With this proposal, the OWWA and the approving banks will conduct meticulous process before they will approve the application.

With this, Lovete said there is no reason why the grantees cannot pay the money they borrowed as well as the interest because the approving authorities should see to it that the project proposal submitted will be feasible, aside from assuring that the applicant is ready and has the capacity to pay his financial obligations.

To date, the official said since the program is being newly-introduced here, OFWs in the region are just starting to avail of the program. She said as per information from LBP, an application from an OFW of this city has just approved and will be granted some P2 million for the establishment of sand and gravel business. (PIA-Caraga)

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News Feature: DENR-13 exceeds 2011 targets for national greening and anti-illegal logging programs

by Eric F. Gallego

While 2011 saw parts of Mindanao devastated by tropical storm Sendong—and brought to the fore the extent of environmental degradation in the island—the year also saw successes in government efforts towards protecting the environment and people from further harm.

Regional Executive Director Leonardo R. Sibbaluca said that, during his first year as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office 13, the agency’s accomplishments were above-par, especially in two major programs: the National Greening Program (NGP) and anti-illegal logging campaign.

The NGP (or Executive Order No. 26) seeks to plant some 1.5 billion trees all over the country from 2011 to 2016. This will cover 1.5 million hectares of the public lands such as forestlands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations.

Caraga Region’s target in 2011was to plant trees in 1,272 hectares in five provinces: of Agusan del Norte, (145 ha.), Agusan del Sur (550 ha.), Surigao del Sur (410 ha.), Surigao del Norte (147 ha.) and the Dinagat Islands (20 ha.)

By the end of 2011, the region was able to plant trees in 1,300 hectares of denuded areas.

In support of this endeavour, the different nursery centers of the Region produced a total of 746,312 seedlings, including 182,669 for fruit trees, and 454,350 for forest and mangrove.

Mangrove seedlings were also planted at the coastline covering a total of 60 hectares in Tagaanan, Tubajon in Surigao del Norte; Lumbucan in Butuan City, Punta, Nasipit, Magallanes and Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte; Barangay Sibaroy, Bislig, San Agustin, Bayabas,Carmen, Carasscal, Madrid, Lanuza and Cantillan in Surigao del Sur which are being managed and supervised by the local officials, private organizations , women organization, the Bantay Dagat and fisherfolk.

On February 2, 2011, President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Executive Order No.23 imposing a total log ban in natural and residual forest. The said Order also prohibited the DENR from issuing and renewing contracts and tree cutting permits in all natural and residual forest. The ban, however, allowed tree cutting associated with cultural practices pursuant to IPRA law but this is subject to strict compliance with the DENR guidelines.

DENR Secretary Ramon JP Paje then organized the Environmental Law Enforcement Task Force Pagbabago led by a retired Maj. Gen.Renato P. Miranda . During the initial operation, the task force confiscated 2,300 pieces of illegal logs in several tributaries of Agusan River particularly in San Luis, Talacogon towards Loreto in Agusan del Sur. The operation has been sustained thereafter.

According to RED Sibbaluca “all eyes” are focused on the Caraga Region in regards to the anti-illegal logging operations considering that the region contributes about 90 percent of total confiscation nationwide.

As of December 2011, DENR records show that a total of 4,132 cubic meters of illegal logs and 315,567.75 board feet (747.45 cu.m) of flitches and lumber have been confiscated by the task force during its 48 weeks operations in 2011. In 2010, the anti-illegal logging operation netted only 11,687.74 cu.m. of confiscated forest products.

A total of 1,994,360.32 board ft. of lumber materials from confiscated products have been donated by the DENR to the Department of Education through the Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA ) Agusan del Sur School of Arts and Trade in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. More than 10,000 arm chairs for elementary pupils have been manufactured by the TESDA as of November 2011 which will be sent to the different public schools in the country.

The DENR is still awaiting the nod of the DepEd for the turn-over of more than 7,242 cubic meters of confiscated forest products which are slowly deteriorating due to exposure to natural elements at the different DENR-authorized depository sites in the region.

The other sectors of DENR 13 have their respective accomplishments in 2011 include: 1) The Land Management Services headed by Regional Technical Director Atty. Paquito Rosal reported that a total of 6,697 residential free patents and 6,778 patents have been issued under the regular fund and 8,501 patents have been issued under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program under the “Handog Titulo ng Pangulo” program;

2) The Forestry Sector headed by RTD Musa Saruang reported that it conducted watershed rehabilitation assessment covering 30 kilometers at the Mt. Magdiwata , San Francisco, Agusan del Sur and at Wawa Watershed covering 57,225 hectares in Bayugan and part of Agusan del Norte;

3) A total of 567 kilometers of forestland boundary lines have been assessed last year generating about 136 jobs;

4) The Ecosystem Research and Development under RTD Virgilio dela Cruz conducted rehabilitation of mangrove area of 60 hectares. It also produced 11,538 pieces of seedlings for the National Greening Program.

Programs for 2012

According to RED Sibbaluca, the major programs of DENR 13 for this year will focused on the implementation of the Philippine Clean Air Act, Philippine Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The DENR will likewise continue the reinforcement of EO 23. The boundaries of the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary shall also be demarcated to protect the endangered mamal and bird species in the area.

It shall also formulate 12 forest-land use plans, intensify the protection an development of established Protected Area such as Siargao Islands Protected Landscape and Seascape, and the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary; intensify the implementation of Integrated Coastal Management Program pursuant to EO 533; establish an operation center for the NGP, issuance of 6,627 patents for residential under the Residential Free Patent Act 10023 and 8,500 patents under CARP among other major programs. (DENR-13/PIA-Caraga)

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Feature: Moving on in Sendong's aftermath

by Danilo Escabarte

Muddied books, broken chairs and damaged classrooms greeted Jasmin Pagador, 5, and her classmates as they trooped back to Cabili Village Elementary School in Iligan City. Teachers and students tried to salvage whatever they could in the campus, which was hardly hit by tropical storm Sendong’s fury last December.

Jasmin went to see their room and found its floor still submerged in floodwater while the walls were badly damaged.

“Is that your room,” Rafael Lopa asked Jasmin in Filipino. Jasmin didn’t reply; she just stared at what was once her classroom.

“Gusto mo ipagawa natin yan (Do you want that we will rebuild it)?" he asked again.

Jasmin replied with a nod.

The Tsunami-like flashflood affected nineteen classrooms at Cabili Village Elementary School, damaged 475 arm chairs, 10 teachers tables and 5 water sanitation facilities.

Textbooks and other reading materials were buried in mud.

Sendong’s wrath may have destroyed school buildings and other vital infrastructures in its path, but has not broken Jasmin’s will to continue her schooling.

Her simple wish is “Maka-eskwela balik (To go back to school)."

Rafael Lopa heads the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), a non-governmental organization which is conducting relief and rehabilitation efforts in identified schools damaged by Sendong in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro city.

Cabili Village Elementary School has been one of PBSP’s recipient and partner school in implementing education-focused projects. Latest among them was a remedial reading program for students with difficulties in reading and comprehension.

Jasmin’s wish can come true. With government and non-government organizations pooling resources together to rebuild what was damaged by Sendong; going back to school and moving on is not impossible for Jasmin and the rest of the students who survived Sendong’s fury.