6.01.2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

SurSur DepEd: No collection policy stands

By Greg Tataro, Jr.

TANDAG CITY, May 29 (PIA) – The Department of Education (DepEd) in Surigao del Sur reiterated anew its reminder to all concerned public school heads that “no collection policy” has continued to be in effect.

However, Schools Division Superintendent Teofila Cabatuan said that starting August, authorized but voluntary contributions for organizations like the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP), Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP), Anti-TB Fund as well as collections agreed upon by PTA (parent-teachers association) may start to be accepted but no school officials are allowed to get involved.

Also, Cabatuan clarified that DepEd Order No. 41 s. of 2011 and DepEd Order No. 18 s. of 2008 state that no fees shall be collected from kindergarten to grade four pupils throughout the school year.

Meanwhile, the local education chief believed that there are only a few more enrollees to get listed before classes start on June 2 since early enrolment has already been done in January. (NGBT/Radyo ng Bayan/PIA-Surigao del Sur)


SSS members with biometric UMID cards reach 4-M
        
MANILA, May 29 (PIA) - The Social Security System (SSS) said it has issued the biometric-based Unified Multi-Purpose Identification System (UMID) card to over four million SSS members at present, with 1.3 million UMID cards issued in 2013. SSS started issuing UMID cards to members in July 2011.

Mario Sibucao, SSS Vice President for Member Services, said the number of UMID applications, as reflected by the total number of UMID “data captures,” reached 1.2 million last year, up by 22 percent from about 975,000 in 2012.

“Data capture involves members' registration of demographic and biometric data into the UMID database. The biometric information, particularly the fingerprint scans, are used to protect the system from persons trying to obtain multiple UMID cards to support fraudulent identities,” Sibucao explained.

UMID data capture services are available in SSS branches on regular working days, while 13 of these will remain open to UMID applicants every Saturday until June 28, 2014. The SSS branches with Saturday UMID schedules include Alabang, Diliman, Makati-Gil Puyat, Makati-Ayala, Manila, Pasig-Shaw, San Francisco del Monte, Bacoor, Biñan, Dagupan, Bacolod, Cebu and Iloilo.

“Mallgoers can also visit SSS Service Offices on Tuesdays until Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to apply for their UMID card at Ali Mall in Cubao, Star Mall in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan, and SM City Cebu and Robinsons Fuente, which are both based in Cebu,” Sibucao said.

For overseas members, UMID services are open from Mondays to Fridays at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Brunei, London, Riyadh, Rome and Singapore; the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong, Jeddah and Milan; and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Dubai, Kuwait and Taiwan.

Sibucao clarified that cardholders of the previous SSS biometric ID can still use them for SSS transactions and are not required to apply for the UMID. Those who prefer to upgrade to the UMID card must surrender their old SSS ID and pay a replacement fee of P300. However, UMID cards of first-time SSS ID applicants are free of charge.

Early this year, the SSS signed an agreement with AllCard Plastics Philippines, Inc. for the installation of nearly 300 self-service Information Terminals in SSS branches nationwide. Once installed, members can tap their UMID cards and scan their fingerprints in these terminals to get secure access to their contributions, loan and benefit records.

“We also plan to enable these terminals to accept SSS transactions such as salary loan applications, maternity notifications, compliance with the Annual Confirmation of Pensioners and submission of technical retirement claims, among other services,” Sibucao said.

Also in the pipeline are the activation of UMID cards for withdrawing SSS loans and benefits at automated teller machines of accredited banks. SSS is in talks with a number of banks for this venture, and will make proper announcements once this new feature becomes available to members.

The SSS processes UMID applications in 10 working days, and then forwards the packaged ID cards to the Philippine Postal Corporation for mailing within an average period of two weeks, depending on the member's address. SSS members with at least one posted contribution can apply for the UMID. (SSS/PIA-Caraga)


Feature: Upland farmers revive denuded forestland in Agusan Norte thru NGP

By Eric F. Gallego

BUTUAN CITY, May 29 (PIA) -  The farmers  in the upland Barangay of Aclan, in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte  have  over the years have either stood  witness or participated in the wanton destruction of an abandoned forest lands formerly operated by the Nasipit Lumber Company (NALCO) near them through the slash and burn farming to survive the harsh life. They gained some at first try but in the end however, they ended up poor and starving most of the time since they continued to be bound on the chains of poverty.  Kainging farming has slowly destroyed the forest that made the vast protection forest area into almost barren and idle land for several years.

DENR Caraga regional director Nonito M. Tamayo said “the chains that enslave these farmers for several years had been relieved through the National Greening Program (NGP).” These farmers who were among the more than 100 members of the DENR -assisted Aclan River Farmers Cooperative (ARFAMCO) stand to benefit enough income from the Falcata Tree farm which they have laboriously cultivated since 2011.

Director Tamayo said that from the earnings of the 32- hectare falcata tree plantation alone, the cooperative would earn at least P30 million by 2017 when the plantation are fully matured.

“We were partly relieved of our desperate condition after we participated in the NGP," Norlito T. Sayson said as he looks back on those hard years of living. The program he said was introduced to them by an extension worker from the CENR Office in Nasipit in 2011.  Sayson said that “once he had thought of giving up farming and shift to illegal logging to survive.  But that mind set was completely changed.

“The NGP program has encouraged us to pursue tree farming because of the opportunities that we can earn more than enough than kaingin farming. He said that there were several livelihood projects that were implemented by the government in the past years but none of these program has met our specific needs than what the NGP had done us,“Ka Lito said. 

He said that for the succeeding years the members of the ARFAMCO had thought of reviving the 171 hectares - waste timberland in Kasunugan, Alikpawan and Malapuwi destroyed through kaingin farming. The members strove to plant 85,000 indigenous seedlings at 500 seedlings per hectare over the period of three years to present with 80 to 85 percent seedling survival rate.  These areas, aside from 35-hectares Falcata plantations included 196 hectare-protection forest planted with indigenous species in 2012 and 2013.
   
“The CENRO had extended financial assistance to us for the maintenance expenses to ensure the healthy growth of the young seedlings,” Ka Lito said.

Among the  indigenous seedlings the farmers have planted in the protection forest included the  species of narra, talisay gubat, mahogany, Palawan cherry, aguho, bagras, bahai, malapapaya, binunga, lagnob, bunot-bunot, manga-manga, bintuko, ilang-ilang,alim, ituman, malapili and bayog.

The so-called “climate change” did not dampen our hopes to continue the reforestation effort.  According to Sayson, the members have been encouraged more to work to ensure the survival rate of 85 percent “We replanted to replace those seedlings that have not survived from the high- humid weather condition and kept on watering the seedlings before the sunrise to sustain their growth,” Sayson said.

Their wives and kids and the women have likewise pre-occupied themselves at the nursery to provide continuous seedling productions.

“During these dry-months period, the farmer usually do site preparations and weeding and resume our planting activities in January when the seasonal rain comes,” he said.

The constant cutting of trees by poachers and slash and burn farming had reduced the once abundant forest on the 171-hectare timber land in Sitio Tabon-Tabon, Barangay Aclan to be barren and unproductive over those years. 

It was further aggravated by the presence of migrating people from the lowlands during the late 90’s which put more pressure on the land formerly operated by the the Nasipit Lumber Company.  The farmers in the area in those hard times were producing less crops in years of kainging farming owing to the high-acidity of soil.  Sayson said “analysing the soil is far from their mind because of the high cost and proximity of the village from the city proper.”  Barangay Aclan is about 42 kilometers away from the city with bad road condition accessible through motorcycles and trucks that seldom pass by.

“We were told the low production of crops was attributed to poor soil nutrients which were washed away by rain waters,” Ka Lito said.  The farmers has named that  area  “Kasunogan” because of constant smoke from burning woods from kaingin activities. “We never thought kaingin farming can make a land barren because nobody had taught us,” he said.

The smokes from burning woods have cleared up months after the NGP was implemented in the area.  Nonetheless, the organization has formed a team of Bantay Gubat serving as foot patrol officers to monitor the activities at the site and ward off kaingin near the NGP site.

Director Tamayo has lauded the efforts of the group in protecting the growing trees in the area.  “The farmers are prepared to protect the young seedlings because they discourage slash and burn farming neither would they allow anybody to set fire near the planting site,” Director Tamayo said.

He said “the government has invested some four million pesos on the rehabilitation of the denuded timber land in the area through the NGP yet at this stage we are witnessing a transformation of living standards of the farmers in the days ahead," Tamayo said.  He said that the restoration of the bare watershed in that area that was part of the 1,800-hectare developed by the Southern Philippine Irrigation Sector in 2007 is becoming visible.

To date The ARFAMCO members, however, are hoping their organization would be officially registered as Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) since its application for registration has been held pending after it was endorsed to the National Cultural Indigenous People (NCIP) regional office in 2009 for approval.  

Sayson said the members are “raring to work about tree planting on the watershed but it would be of best interest to work under a legitimate and recognized organization.”

“If we protect the forest, they will protect us,” he said.

“Nakita namin ang pagsira sa mga puno at parang napabayaan na ang parteng ito kung saan wala nang masyadong puno. Pagsisikapan naming maibalik muli at mapanatiling buhay ang mga puno na tutubo dito at kahit wala na kami, ang mga anak at magiging anak nila ang makikinabang sa malinis na hangin sa mga darating na panahon (We have seen the destruction of forest and neglect of man to restore the trees in this area over the past years. We will try to bring the forest back to this place so that even when we are gone, our children and their children shall reap fresh air)," Sayson said. (With reports from Cristine P.  Selanova and Richell P. Bongato, DENR RPAO 13/PIA-Caraga)


PNP eyes highly suspicious activities behind voluminous explosive chemicals, devices seized in SurSur

By Greg Tataro Jr.

TANDAG CITY, May 29 (PIA) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Surigao del Sur is not ruling out the possibility that the voluminous chemicals and other devices seized Sunday in a raid in a remote barangay in Lianga town were supplies used by rebel groups for the manufacture of “landmines and other improvised explosive devices (IED).”

According to Officer-In-Charge (OIC) Provincial Director P/SSupt. Narciso Verdadero, an “in-depth” investigation is still on-going due to the incredible “finds” at the said place which is also well-known as one of the NPA-influenced areas in the province.

Reportedly, on May 25, at about 3:30 p.m., a police operation was jointly conducted by Lianga Municipal Police Station (MPS) led by Deputy Chief of Police (DCOP) Insp. Roy Licayan;  Surigao del Sur Criminal Investigation and Detection Team (SDSCIDT) headed by PCI Arvin Montenegro;  Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) led by PCI Greggie Pimentel;  and SDS Police Provincial Office (SDSPPO) also led by PSI Manolo Andrew Caoile in Purok 2 and 3 at Barangay Liatimco, Lianga town by virtue of Search Warrant No. L-SW-04-14 issued by Executive Judge Alfredo Jalad of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 28 against respondents Bebot Espuerta, Daday Abunado, ang Roberto “Talok” Consigna for alleged violation of Presidential Decree 1866 or illegal possession of firearms and explosives as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) 8294 and further amended by R.A. 10591 and R.A. 9516.

However, Verdadero lamented that among the three subjects of the search warrant, only Espuerta, who was later identified as Arturo Andohuyan Espuerta, was nabbed while Abunado and Consigna eluded arrest.

But in their respective residences, S/Supt. Verdadero pointed out that the search and seizure yielded lots of blasting caps, wires, detonating cords, match sticks, and ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) in large quantities.

Besides, a Smith & Wesson Revolver (.357) with a defaced serial number with five live ammunition was also found at the Abunado residence, he added.

Meanwhile, Verdadero said that the investigating team is also establishing possible links on other illegal activities, like mining and fishing,that abound around the area. (NGBT/Radyo ng Bayan/PIA-Surigao del Sur)