5.07.2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Local media commits to advocate on gender equality

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY, May 7 (PIA) – Several media professionals of this city have expressed their commitment to advocate gender sensitivity, equality in their programs and publications, during the Seminar on Media and Gender Equality conducted by Paz y Desarrollo (PyD) held on Tuesday at the Caraga State University (CSU) here.

PyD National Program Coordinator Lilia Perez reiterated that its program in Caraga region is to promote gender equality in political participation and contribute to the realization of women's political and civil rights supporting initiatives that promote equal participation of women and men in good governance and democracy.

“With our ‘Female Forward’ program, we are promoting participation of women in the regional and national initiatives that act as debate and analysis forum to increase women’s political and civil participation; strengthen good governance for gender equality, promoting women’s participation and incorporating gender equality in the political agenda; and encourage initiatives on citizenship which promote women’s political and civil rights,” Perez emphasized.

Also, Prof. Adrilene Mae Castaños of CSU recalled that in 2010, PyD started a Regional Program to Promote Gender Equality in Political Participation in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Philippines, Timor Leste and Vietnam funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

"I was part of the team who did research on Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) cases in Caraga region when PyD started its program on gender equality. ARMM and Caraga regions were the pilot areas of the research we conducted," she bared.

It was also learned that in the Philippines, the PyD’s Female Forward Program, as it is locally known, is focused in the provinces of Lanao del Sur (Marawi and Balindong) in the ARMM and Agusan del Norte (Butuan City, Kitcharao, Santiago and Tubay) in Caraga; and aims to contribute to the realization of women's political and civil rights.

Castaños also distinguished the definitions of sex from gender. “When we say sex, it is the maleness and femaleness of an individual. It is based on the chromosomes make up, and the external and internal organs of the individual, while the gender, it is the cultural construct of the maleness and femaleness of a person,” she clarified.

“As media professionals, you have a crucial role in influencing the public. That’s why we hope that you could help us in our campaign on gender equality. We are looking forward to working with you in our future activities,” added Perez.

During the healthy discussion on gender issues among media practitioners in their reportage, the participants representing different local print and radio stations voluntarily expressed their commitment by allowing officials of PyD and company to have a free air time program on a weekly basis, as well as a column on the publication at the respective media outfits. Posters of PyD’s ‘Female Forward’ program will also be posted outside the media offices.

PyD is a non-government development and gender-oriented organization founded in Cordoba, Spain in 1991. Over the last 20 years, PyD has worked with governments, civil society organizations and educational institutions from various nations in carrying out programs and projects that seeks to promote equality and social justice as a means to achieve social change. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)


PIA-Caraga intensifies advocacy on gender equality

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY, May 7 (PIA) – As an active gender advocate, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga headed by regional director Abner Caga is intensifying its gender sensitivity and equality advocacy among men and women in the region.

On behalf of RD Caga, operations chief Nora Molde, concurrent information center manager of PIA-Agusan del Norte expressed the agency’s continued support and commitment to personnel of Paz y Desarrollo (PyD) during the Seminar on Media and Gender Equality held at Caraga State University (CSU) here.

“Promotion of gender equality is part of our priority in our information dissemination. We will continue to utilize our platforms for our advocacy on gender equality since we believe that peace and development will be sustained if gender equality is present in the community,” bared Molde.

PIA has been disseminating information through its Short Messaging Service/textblast, press and photo releases, One Mindanao Electronic News Magazine, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and the Power FM.

“We have been an active partner of the Gender and Development Coordinating Committee chaired by Commission on Human Rights Caraga regional director Atty. Marylin Pintor. PIA is constantly supporting and documenting all the gender-related activities of the committee,” added Molde.

Meanwhile, Arjay Arellano, Communication and Advocacy Officer of PyD extended his thanks to PIA for being an active partner-advocate. “This ‘Female Forward’ program of PyD, along with gender equality program is just a five-year implementation but we believe that with your help, this advocacy will continue as the PIA being the information arm of the government has also its mission to sustain lasting peace and development,” he remarked. 

PyD Philippines is working on the implementation of the “Female Forward! Stand Up, Step Up, Speak Up!” communication and advocacy plan. The plan foresees not only basic awareness raising activities but also capacity building trainings and workshops on Gender Sensitivity for Media. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)


TUCP, JILAF to hold Constructive IR, Employment Security, Equitable Income NatCon

By Fryan E. Abkilan

BUTUAN CITY, May 7 (PIA) - The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), in cooperation with the Japan International Labor Foundation (JILAF) will hold the Constructive Industrial Relations, Employment Security, and Equitable Income national conference on May 13-14, 2014 at the Traders Hotel in Manila.

Former senator and TUCP president Ernesto Herrera said the two-day conference hopes to contribute to the achievement of decent work and inclusive growth for all and the strengthening of the TUCP and its affiliate federations and enterprise-based unions.

Herrera said the event also aims to provide an opportunity for union leaders to understand and analyze current labor and employment realities, issues, and challenges at the national and enterprise levels and explain/discuss TUCP’s perspectives and positions on industrial relations and decent work.

“The activity will also engage government and employers on discussions towards constructive industrial relations, including on employment security, equitable income, and decent work, among others; derive lessons from the experiences of Japanese unions and those of other countries where JILAF operates and develop a trade union action and recommendations towards achieving decent work, inclusive growth and workers’ rights,” Herrera added.

Some one hundred trade union leaders and activists are expected to attend.

It was learned that officials from JILAF, Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Japanese Labor Attaché’ Hiroyuki Enoki and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz are also invited to grace the said event.

TUCP is an affiliate of the International Trade Union Council (ITUC), a worldwide umbrella association of labor unions. (FEA/PIA-Caraga)


AgSur vice gov to discuss leadership with PRC stakeholders

By David M. Suyao

AGUSAN DEL SUR, May 7 (PIA) - Some 36 stakeholders of the Philippine Red Cross Agusan del Sur Chapter (PRC-AdS) will benefit the training on leadership to be discussed by Vice Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. in time with the celebration of the World Red Cross Red Crescent Day on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

The stakeholders/participants who will participate in the discussion are composed of Chapter Base Volunteers, Red Cross Action Team members, Barangay Captains from project areas of Bunawan and Esperanza and the Red Cross 143 Presidents and Coordinators with Maternal Neonatal and Child Health coordinators and partners for resilient projects and the PRC Agusan del Sur Chapter Board Members.

According to PRC-AdS Chapter Administrator Darwina Ligan, the May 8 celebration will be celebrated by 188 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies worldwide, including the Philippine Red Cross, being the birth date of Henry Dunant, father of the Red Cross who was born on May 8, 1828.

The PRC-AdS will also take the opportunity to give awards and recognition to members and volunteers who have one way or another, shared their spirit of volunteerism with the PRC-AdS in times of disasters and calamities, including those who have spent restless days and nights at the hard hit by typhoon “Yolanda” in Samar and Leyte.

Games and amusements will also take place in the afternoon after the formal discussion and awarding to keep the bonding of the Red Cross volunteers burning for another challenge that may come. (DMS/PIA-Agusan del Sur)


Easier compliance for pensioners seen with SSS-NSO partnership

MANILA, May 7 (PIA) - As part of measures to make transactions convenient for members, the Social Security System (SSS) has partnered with the National Statistics Office (NSO) in developing a data matching program that will regularly scan the civil registry for deaths and marriages of SSS pensioners to verify their continued eligibility to pension.

The SSS-NSO partnership was forged under a memorandum of agreement signed by SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. and NSO Administrator Carmelita Ericta on February 14, 2014.

Rita Baloy, SSS Officer-in-Charge for Benefits Administration, said the SSS-NSO partnership may pave the way for the eventual waiving of the Annual Confirmation of Pensioners (ACOP) – or the required visit or submission of documents to reconfirm pension eligibility -- for certain types of pensioners.

The pensioner's death, remarriage of a surviving spouse and marriage of a dependent below age 21 are among the reasons for the permanent stoppage of pensions. However, monitoring other factors for pension cancellation – such as employment, cohabitation and recovery from disability --- still needs the ACOP since these cannot be checked using NSO data.

“While the development of the new SSS-NSO project is underway, ACOP compliance is still expected of all SSS pensioners at present to ensure the continued release of their pension,” Baloy emphasized.

During 'Phase 1” or the pilot implementation, the SSS-NSO data matching will initially focus on pensioners aged 80 and above who, in consideration of their health conditions, were allowed to submit their ACOP requirements through a representative or via mail.

“Under the pilot run scheduled this year, SSS will no longer require the yearly ACOP visit or submission of documents for pensioners aged 80 and above, since we will instead check their current status using NSO records,” Baloy said. “If the pilot implementation is successful, we shall proceed to 'Phase 2' that will involve NSO data matching for all SSS pensioners.”

With the wider access to NSO records, the SSS can readily secure the necessary certifications to verify the documents submitted by pensioners under the ACOP to ensure their authenticity.

Aside from helping pensioners with the ACOP, benefits of the SSS-NSO partnership are also seen to reach the greater SSS membership, since NSO will provide SSS a facility to secure certificates on behalf of transacting members and beneficiaries, thereby making the process more convenient for them.

The direct release of certificates from NSO to SSS will also help facilitate faster processing of benefit claims and other SSS transactions. NSO documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates are normally required by SSS to ensure the authenticity of claims filed by members and beneficiaries. (SSS/PIA-Caraga)


Agnor solon welcomes Agriculture department ‘clean up’

QUEZON CITY, May 7 (PIA) - Agusan del Norte First District Representative Lawrence ”Law” Fortun has welcomed the move of President Benigno S. Aquino III in ‘cleaning-up’ the Department of Agriculture (DA) “which has been wracked by charges of corruption and cronyism under Secretary Proceso Alcala.”

Reacting to the appointment of former Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization with specific instructions to do some serious “house cleaning” of the agency, Fortun said that this move of the President will be a big boost to the administration’s thrust of seriously combating corruption in the government.

With the appointment of Pangilinan, he will take over the supervision of the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA). The said agencies have been hounded by various corruption scandals over the past years.

Fortun said that he is hopeful that this will address the problem of corruption and poor performance of these agencies, especially NIA which he assailed in a privilege speech before members of the House of Representatives. The solon lambasted the said agency for the unfinished projects in his district but was reported to be completed. It is expected that upon resumption of the session of the House, a full-blown investigation will be conducted by the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability. (LAWig Katawhan/PIA-Agusan del Norte)


Surigao City steps up drive vs measles

SURIGAO DEL NORTE, May 7 (PIA) – Health personnel in Surigao City have stepped up their measles awareness and immunization campaign following the increase in the number of cases recorded from January to April, 2014.

Dr. Arlene T. Felizarta of the City Health Office and Family Medicine Expert, said during the recently held City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council emergency meeting that the disease has already claimed one life. "The victim is from Barangay Mapawa and died on April 2, 2014," said Felizarta.

As 5 p.m. Tuesday, Felizarta said they have recorded a total of 137 cases of measles.

“Most of the victims came from the barangays of Taft, Washington, Canlanipa, San Juan, Cagniog, Luna, Rizal, Mabua, Mat-i, Togbongon, Ipil, Mapawa, Trinidad, Cabongbongan, Capalayan, Nabago, Quezon, San Jose, Balibayon, Serna and Punta Bilar. Ages of cases ranged from one month to 54 years old and majority of cases were male with 53-60 percent, while 39 percent were female and 68 percent of cases belonged to 0 to 10 years age,” Felizarta added.

She also said that they have already visited several affected barangays to administer measles vaccines to the victims. "We have also set up two operations centers located in Luneta Park and Nueva Gym where suspected measles cases are handled and processed," Felizarta said. (SDR/PIA-Surigao del Norte)


News Feature: MRDP2: Bridging Dreams to Reality

By Emmylou T. Presilda

BUTUAN CITY, May 7 (PIA) - “We have been dreaming of this bridge for as long as I can remember. Now it’s a reality.” Fifty-eight year old farmer Mateo Garcia of Nuevo Trabajo was teary-eyed as he tried to recall the hardships he went through over the years. 

“Many years ago when there was no hanging bridge yet, we have no choice but to carry our sacks of corn on our back while crossing the river knee-deep.  If there was an available boat, we would load our products at least four times and pay P50 per trip to the other side of the river," said Garcia.

“Our prayers are finally answered,” he added.

The hanging bridge, which was constructed wayback 1998 has offered a little improvement.  Although farmers’ products can already be transported in motorcycles, farmers have to spend the same for hauling.  For the elementary pupils, it has become a little safer since they no longer have to cross the river either by boat or by foot.

But the danger was not over yet until the local government of San Luis, Agusan del Sur was able to avail of the Rural Infrastructure (RI) fund under the Department of Agriculture’s Mindanao Rural Development Program 2 (DA-MRDP2).

DA-MRDP2 has recently turned over a 120 linear meter Single Lane pre-Stressed Concrete Girder (PSCG) Bridge amounting to P45 Million. The longest PSCG Bridge constructed over Mindanao under MRDP2.

The project links the access road from the barangay proper benefitting a population of 1,289 comprising 267 households of mostly Indigenous People (IP).

“We are very happy that after many years of waiting, the bridge is finally here.  To us, this bridge does not only serve as support to agricultural productivity but more importantly, a means of saving peoples’ lives,” Barangay Captain Roberto Ceno said.

According to Ceno, the whole area of Nuevo Trabajo is prone to flooding.  Maasam river would always overflow when it rains heavily putting at risk the lives of the people especially the children who are studying at a nearby elementary school.  With the bridge already in place, people will already have an easy way out from the flood-prone area in times of emergency.

In terms of agricultural productivity, barangay Nuevo Trabajo is the production base for the municipality of San Luis with 220 hectares contiguous area for corn going to barangay Sta. Inez and Masalang with 700 hectares.  Rice area currently cultivated is 20 hectares and 3,000 potential areas to be opened for production.

The bridge’ benefit also include: reduce travel time from 25 to 10 minutes from the farm to the market; reduce freight and handling cost of agri products; eliminate damages of goods during hauling; and, facilitate immediate delivery of newly harvested farm products.

“I am truly happy right now to see the happiness in the faces of the people here and I am grateful that you have implemented this project very well as I can see in the quality of the bridge that has been built,” DA-13 acting director Edna Mabeza said during the turnover. (DA-13/PIA-Caraga)


Feature: Being blind does not mean having no vision

By Gervacio C. Dauz, Jr.

BUTUAN CITY, May 7 (PIA) - During his heyday as a sighted person in his early 20’s, Mimsi Quiapo used to have a lady love, who owned a repair shop somewhere in Iligan City.  Their union as common law husband and wife netted for them a bundle of joy, whom they adorably christened to as Kimberly.

To support his growing family, Mimsi helped in her darling’s shop by attending to the clients’ needs and seconding likewise as a welder as the need arises.  Having no knowledge at all with the need and importance of putting on protective gears, he just blindly buckled to work and welded available jobs from sunup until sundown.  When he felt that his eyes got stuck with gravelly matters, making him ill at ease for a protracted time, still he consulted not the advice and expert intervention of an ophthalmologist.  His frail eyes further weakened until it gradually lost its sight.  Too late by then when he sought the doctor’s help as his eyes’ infirmity had already become irreversible.

On top of his predicament, his lady love who used to have an angel’s wings, had switched on to flying on her own via a broomstick.  Left alone, he pondered what life could offer him ahead because of the double whammy.  Good that in the ensuing severance of ties, his lone daughter sided and stuck it out with him through thick and thin – maybe because of pity or sympathy.

When I asked him if he had tried seeking for alms, as what many blind people are usually doing, he shook his head.  “Before my eyesight left me for good,” he shared, “I endeavored to undergo massage training in year 1994 under the auspices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Cotabato City.”  Thus, “when I became a full-pledged, through and through blind, I got comfort and dignity in being a productive person by offering my skills in massage to those who needed my services.”   And it has become his bread and butter ever since.

As one looking for a greener pasture, he got employed as a regular mainstay at the Golden Blind Massage in Capistrano, Cagayan de Oro City.  From there, he got pirated by another massage establishment, the Oro Blind Massage.  When it folded shop because the building at said lucrative location was purchased, he eventually transferred to the main branch of Oro Blind Massage in Butuan City.  Since 1996 up to this day, he has become a mainstay in said establishment with avid clients seeking his therapeutic touch when the tough gets going.

Even if he could be considered as an “old dog” already as far as the trade is concerned, yet he knows how to welcome some “new tricks” that would upgrade his services.  Having heard through word of mouth that the Butuan City Manpower Training Center here is dangling a special scholarship package in Massage Therapy NC II for blind people like him, he wasted no time in grabbing the opportunity.

Together with other blind hopefuls, he entered the portals of the training center, which is run and managed by the local government, somewhere in July 2012, breezed through with the skills training under the tutelage of Charlie Orias, and graduated in November 2012 as one confidently armed with a National Certification Level II in Massage Therapy.

When I asked whether there’s a plus factor in acquiring NC II or not, he quipped that “our government is already requiring it.  Likewise, it is also for those clients who are either fickle-headed or plain curious by asking blind fellows like me if we got some legal credentials up our sleeves.”

He got more accommodating when I shared that I used to have a blind auntie also and that on several occasions during my boyhood years I became her guide in order to seek for alms.  When I told him she died years ago, he did not pursue in quizzing me further.  In return, he shared that he is also getting “a modest income out of my massage venture – at least between two to four clients per night at P220.00 each, tips not included yet.  But this is towards the evening period.  By day, I would conduct my own home service to further augment my income.”

“What about Kimberly?” I hastened to ask.  “Ah, she’s still my able and willing guide if ever I need her eyesight,” he responded.  “But she’s already married and has her own family.  And I’m happy for her.”

“So, you must be a very responsible father after all?” I bantered.  He just smiled as one who appears to be fulfilled.

As the dusk started enveloping the veranda of Oro Blind Massage in Montilla Boulevard here, and the surprise blackout exacerbated further in obscuring my facility of journal writing, I toned down our conversation, courteously shook his hand as a sign of gratitude, and then thanked him for the time and effort he spent with me. 

When we parted ways and I got obscured by the darkness, I felt delighted from within . . . as if light had illuminated me, all because an inspiration just came from Mimsi.  That fellow educated me that being blind need not necessarily mean lowering one’s dignity nor acting apologetically and pitiable by scouring places like vagabonds in order to seek for alms from strangers.  Mind you, it seemed as if he’s saying to me: “Being blind does not mean having no vision.” In the same vein, Helen Keller, that blind but famous American author, has almost the same thing to share: “It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” (TESDA-Agusan del Norte/PIA-Agusan del Norte)


SSS pilots collection agreement to reach workers in “unbanked” island province

MANILA, May 7 (PIA) - After expanding its network of tie-ups with informal sector groups, microfinance institutions and cooperatives, the Social Security System (SSS) has now rolled out new linkages with local government units (LGUs) in “unbanked” island provinces that do not have accessible banking systems and payment facilities. This is an alternative means to sustain active SSS membership by making regular payment of contributions and loans convenient and within reach.

“SSS partnerships with LGUs, especially those in island provinces and far-flung areas, strengthen our campaign to provide social protection to workers and their beneficiaries regardless of geographic location and economic status,” noted Josie Magana, SSS Vice President for Luzon Operations Group.

The LGUs in Alabat, Perez and Quezon – which are fifth-class municipalities comprising Alabat Island in Quezon province – have started collecting payments for SSS contributions and loans within the first quarter of 2014 as part of their respective Collection Agency Agreements (CAA) with SSS.

Alabat Island, SSS' pilot area for its CAA with LGUs, has an estimated labor force of 24,500, with fishing and farming as common sources of livelihood. It also has a flourishing cottage industry producing native bags, rice cakes, camote chips, cashew polvoron and espasol, among others.

“In the past, Alabat residents had to take a 50-minute RORO ride to Atimonan, Quezon to remit their SSS payments. One-way trip costs P95, and the RORO is scheduled to depart for Alabat only at 10 a.m. and go back to Atimonan at 12 noon,” Magana explained. “Although small boats are available an hour ahead of RORO schedule, Alabat residents are taking risks riding them due to the water current.”

“Alabat residents who miss the scheduled return trips are forced to stay overnight in Atimonan, incurring additional costs for food and lodging. But with an SSS payment facility right at their LGU, the money they can save may be used instead to augment their SSS contributions,” she added.

Employers, self-employed and voluntary members can now pay at the Municipal Treasurer's Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. As part of the CAA, the LGU will report their transactions to the nearest SSS branch on a daily basis via email to facilitate the quick posting of members' payments.

“By accrediting LGUs as SSS collecting agents, we help these workers from previously overlooked areas become covered – and more importantly, become active SSS members – so that they and their loved ones can avail themselves of SSS benefits in times of financial need,” Magana said.

Apart from bringing social protection closer to their constituents, accredited LGUs also benefit from the P6.00 service fee per successful transaction to be paid to them by SSS under the CAA.

The SSS has also incorporated security measures in the new LGU-based payment system to protect the remitted contributions and loan amortizations of members, Magana noted. (SSS/PIA-Caraga) 


Tagalog News: Bagong Presidential Assistant for Food Security sinabing tutukan niya ang pamumuslit ng bigas

AGUSAN DEL SUR, Mayo 7 (PIA) - Sinabi noong Martes ni Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francisco Pangilinan na hindi niya hahayaan ang mga mamumuslit na siyang magkontrol ng suplay ng bigas sa bansa at diktahan ang presyo sa merkado.

Sinabi ito ni Pangilinan ilang sandali matapos siyang italaga ni Pangulong Benigno S. Aquino III sa kanyang tanggapan at bigyan siya ng kapangyarihan na bantayan ang National Food Authority (NFA) at tatlo pang ibang ahensiya na dati ay nasa ilalim ng Department of Agriculture.

Sabi niya na noong nakaraan, ang mga nagpupuslit ng bigas ay ginagamit ang grupo ng mga magsasaka at negosyante ng bigas para magpapasok ng bigas sa illegal na paraan.

“Hindi tayo papayag na sila ay mangingibabaw dito sa sektor ng bigas at pag-import ng bigas,” sabi ng dating Senador na minsan ay naging pinuno ng Senado sa Komitiba ng Agrikultura at nangunguna sa imbestigasyon sa mga may katiwaliang transaksiyon sa sektor ng Agrikultura.

Tinanong kung ang kanyang kabuuang hangarin ay buwagin ang rice cartel sa bansa, sinabi ni Pangilinan na ang kanyang layunin ay seguradohing mas malinaw at organisado ang paraan para sa pagpasok ng bigas.

“Ang sa atin ay hindi natin sila papayagang diktahan ang rice trade sa ating bansa. Whether mabuwag sila o hindi, hindi ko masasabi, pero ang ating layunin ay magkaroon ng mas malinis na proseso ng pag-import ng bigas,” sabi niya.

Kinikilala ng pamahalaan ang problema ng pamumuslit sa bansa, sabi niya, tinumbok na may ginawa ng hakbang-reporma ang Pangulo sa Bureau of Customs para mapigil ang pamumuslit, hindi lamang ng bigas kundi pati na rin ang iba pang produkto.

Dagdag pa ng bagong itinurong opisyal na subukan niyang tutukan ang kakulangan ng capital ng mga magsasaka na siyang hadlang para dumami ang kanilang produkto at kita.

Ang kawalan ng mga pinaggalingan ng gagamiting pera tulad ng mga banko at kooperatiba ay pumipigil sa mga magsasaka mula sa pagkakaroon ng sapat na pera para suportahan ang kanilang pagkakitaan, sabi niya.


Sinabi ni Pangilinan na makipag-ugnayan siya kay Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala para tulungan ang mga magsasaka na magkaroon ng daan para sa suportang pinansiyal tulad ng loan at insurance. (DMS/PIA-Agusan del Sur)