Thursday, February 2, 2017

RIACAT-VAWC Caraga sets activities for 2017 Women’s Month celebration

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY, Feb. 2 (PIA) – The Regional Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking and Violence Against Women and their Children (RIACAT-VAWC) Caraga has planned various activities for this year’s Women’s Month celebration in March.

According to Jessie Catherine Aranas, Social Worker III of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and focal person for RIACAT-VAWC disclosed that the committee has initially planned various activities for the said celebration.

“The kick-off ceremony of the 2017 Women’s Month celebration is set on March 6, 2017 with the conduct of motorcade within the city thoroughfares, to be followed with a short program and photo gallery booth display at the Robinsons Place, Butuan City,” bared Aranas.

It was also learned that there will be an orientation in the different local government units in Caraga on women’s laws and child pornography training for social workers and prosecutors on March 13-17, 2017.

“The LCAT-VAWC monitoring is also set in March and onwards while the RIACAT-VAWC strategic planning is happening in April as post Women’s Month activity. We will also be coordinating with other agencies in the conduct of their respective activities for the said celebration,” Aranas added. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)


CHR Caraga to hold dialogue on re-imposition of death penalty

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY, Feb. 2 (PIA) – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will be holding the Community Based Dialogue on the re-imposition of the death penalty on February 9, 2017 at Grand Place Hotel and Restaurant, this city.

CHR-Caraga regional director Atty. Jerefe Tubigon-Bacang, said the activity seeks to raise the level of public awareness and understanding on the death penalty and its implications, and create a platform for the CHR’s campaign against the death penalty.

“Through this activity, it will also provide a venue for dialogue among stakeholders on the need for cooperative efforts to promote right to life, and encourage and build constituencies who will campaign against the death penalty through the ‘Universities/Schools Against Death Penalty’ mechanism,” added Bacang.

The good director also emphasized that the CHR, the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) of the country is mandated to protect, promote and fulfill human rights and to monitor Philippine Government’s compliance on international treaty obligations on human rights. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)


Government reiterates grant of health privileges, benefit for senior citizens

By Venus L. Garcia

BUTUAN, Feb. 2 (PIA) – To give full support to the improvement of total well-being of the elderly and to provide a comprehensive health care and rehabilitation system for disabled senior citizens to foster their capacity to attain a more meaningful and productive ageing, the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) Caraga further promotes awareness on the additional health privileges and benefits of elderly persons.

In accordance with the Republic Act No. 9994, otherwise known as “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010,” senior citizens shall be entitled of 20 percent discount and exemption from the value added tax (VAT).

“Medical and dental services in private facilities, diagnostic and laboratory tests, such as, but not limited to x-rays, computerized tomography scans and blood tests that are requested by a physician as necessary for the diagnosis and/or treatment of an illness or injury are subject to the 20 percent discount and VAT exemption. Likewise, professional fees of attending physicians in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care facilities shall be subject to the 20 percent discount and VAT exemption,” elaborated Dr. Rene Vargas, OSCA - Butuan Federated President.

Apart also from the free of charge in government facilities, all indigent senior citizens shall be covered by the national health insurance program of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Senior citizens who are qualified to become a member of PhilHealth are those Filipino citizens who are residents of the Philippines, aged sixty years or above and are not currently covered by any membership category of PhilHealth; qualified dependents of senior citizen members who are also senior citizen themselves; and qualified dependents of members belonging to other membership categories, with or without coverage who are senior citizens themselves.

Senior Citizens who are gainfully employed or who remain to have regular sources of income shall continue to pay their premium contributions to PhilHealth under the applicable membership categories.

There are two options to enroll as a Senior Citizen member of PhilHealth. One is through Office for the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) and the other is through PhilHealth Local Health Insurance Office (LHIO).

Accordingly, in hospitals with installed health care institution (HCI) Portal, Senior Citizens only need to present their senior citizen card, MDR or any accepted proof of identity and age. The Hospital shall print a PhilHealth Benefit Eligibility Form (PBEF). A PBEF that says “YES” means that the patient is entitled to the benefits and shall serve as a basis for automatic deduction.

“In case the hospital has no HCI portal installed, or the PBEF says “NO”, or the senior citizen was not able to enroll before discharge, the following should be attached to the usual claim documents: duly accomplished PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF) and an acceptable proof of status as a senior citizen, including but not limited to the Senior Citizens' Identification Card,” said Dr. Vargas.

He added that the Department of Health (DOH) shall also administer free vaccinations against influenza virus and pneumococcal disease for indigent senior citizens.

“These are just among the many programs that our government delivers to the senior citizens. They or their family members can contact or visit the OSCA office nearest to them to know more of the services they are entitled with, including the privileges on social services, housing, access to public transport, social pension, social safety nets, and additional government assistance, among others,” stated Dr. Vargas. (VLG/PIA-Caraga)


256 workers in the informal sector in SurSur town receive financial aid from DOLE

By Nida Grace P. Barcena

TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur, Feb. 2 (PIA) – Some 256 workers in the informal sector from Hinatuan town were the direct beneficiaries of the financial assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Caraga.

According to Romelyn Bactol, DOLE Integrated Livelihood Project and Emergency Employment Program Focal Person, the financial assistance was turned over to the local government unit of Hinatuan amounting to P2.5 Million intended for the five projects of the informal sector workers association.

One of the five projects identified is the acquisition of additional equipment and vermin facility for the improvement of production of organic fertilizer through vermin culture and composting of the Hinatuan Skilled Workers Association (HINASKI) with P834,900.00 worth of financial assistance.

Another one is the meat processing project for the Upper Talisay Habitat Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (UTHAREBECO) amounted to P143,960.

Other project identfied was the acquisition of Coconut Handicraft Mechanization Equipment for the Dugmanon United Coconut Farmers Association (DUCOFA) worth P440,350.

They have also included the acquisition of rice harvester for Sasa United Farmers Association worth P960,000.00; and the provision of tools and equipment for use in coco handicrafts production and marketing to New Guiwan Association of Coconut Farmers and Handicrafts Workers worth P173,750.00, respectively.

A total of 16 livelihood projects have already been assisted and monitored by the DOLE and the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) of Hinatuan from 2013 up to 2016. (PIA-Surigao del Sur)


Feature: Army 402 Bde cites ATR for feat

By Greg Tataro Jr.

TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur, Feb. 2 (PIA) – Following the Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR) with the end in view of joining the ranks of “A world-class army that is a source of national pride,” the 402nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) here under Col. Franco Nemesio “Jojo” Gacal has been gaining ground towards that “2028 Vision.”

Captains Herald Amarga and Regie Go, respective Personnel and Civil Military Operations (CMO) Officers of the same brigade, said that since year 2010, they had already started “to pursue the ATR.”

Cpt. Amarga, for his part, being the focal person to get the job done, stressed that they had been slowly morphing into a unit guided by “Good Governance, ” and on the right track of achieving the best of both worlds of “Organizational Excellence” and “Leveling-Up Capability.”

When asked to elaborate, Go added that they had to have “Optimum engagement and collaborative partnership with stakeholders,” keeping in mind that “civilian authority is supreme over the military.”  Hence, “provinces in their area of responsibility (AOR) had to be normalized as far as insurgency problem is concerned with the respective Local Government Units (LGUs) leading in peace and development efforts,” Cpt. Go went on to say.

On the other hand, Cpt. Amarga took pride in saying that the brigade had already attained the next higher steps of having “A disciplined and motivated Army capable of addressing all internal security threats” as well as “A well-equipped Army that has established a respectable image in Southeast Asia” during the last six years.

During the last two years, the feat accomplished by the brigade and the fate earned on the endeavor was mostly attributed to the then Commander Col. Isidro Purisima, who was recently promoted to Brigadier General early this year, Amarga recalled.

By now, the brigade personnel officer said that in order to succeed, recruitment of individual army personnel carries a vital role, adding that a recruit must meet the new qualification standards set by the organization of, at least, possessing a certified skill by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).  On the said concept, both army officers agreed that their unit also deserved only the “best and brightest,” citing that “Core Values” had to be deeply anchored on “Honor, Patriotism, and Duty.”

Earlier,  Amarga said that they would continue to carry out their “Mission” now under the ATR being crafted with the “Core Purpose” of “Serving the People, Securing the Land!” (Radyo ng Bayan-Tandag/PIA-Surigao del Sur)


Summit to enhance regional ecozones dev’t in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Feb. 2 (PIA) – More than 200 key representatives from the government, private sector, and other institutions convened here on Thursday to finalize integral steps necessary in accelerating regional economic zone development initiatives in Mindanao.

Dubbed as the “Mindanao Ecozone Summit,” the two-day event, held at the Grand Regal Hotel will highlight the collaboration between the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) through the signing of a memorandum of agreement that will encourage concerned agencies to participate in the promotion and development of ecozones within the island-region.

“MinDA sees ecozone development as an imperative measure that will bolster inclusive socioeconomic growth in the region,” said MinDA Chairman Secretary Datu Hj. Abul Khayr Alonto.

He explained that MinDA and PEZA are looking at a holistic approach in ecozone development in which Mindanao’s agriculture and its component sectors such as fisheries and aquaculture will play key roles in Mindanao’s overall development.

“If I am to envision the island-region’s development in the next 10 to 20 years, I see agriculture cooperatives and agri-based industries as the most prominent drivers of Mindanao’s economy,” the Secretary said.

He added that it couldn’t be overstated that agri-based cooperatives have the capacity to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and their families.

“Agriculture cooperatives after all are the pillars of development and food security,” he said.

One of the potential areas targeted for ecozone development is Tawi-Tawi with its high potential for agriculture and aquaculture development, particularly seaweed.

With the influx of agri-based ecozones, Secretary Alonto hopes that this will strike a “balance between large plantation and smallholder farming” wherein farmers can fully reap the long-term benefits of such initiatives.

As of April 2016, there are 81 identified economic zones in the island-region covering various sectors such as agro-industry, manufacturing, tourism, and Information Technology, among others.

MinDA is also looking into the establishment of key infrastructure and connectivity networks as they play a vital role in ensuring the seamless flow of economic activities in the proposed ecozones.

Through the Mindanao Development Corridors, a spatial approach to development, MinDA will work with concerned agencies in making sure that all interregional roads, gateway ports and airports, as well as other logistic facilities are in place.

Some of the early gains of this strategy include the scheduled launching of the Davao-Gensan-Bitung shipping route, which will expedite travel time for goods between Indonesia and the Philippines from five weeks to three days.

“We are counting on this new route to entice more locators in our Economic Zones, especially from our neighbors in the Brunei Indonesia Malaysia and Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area and the larger ASEAN market,” Secretary Alonto added.

The program is also looking into the development of the Mindanao Railway Project, a trans-regional, high-speed railway system linking all key cities in the island-region.  The project was recently identified by the national government as one of the top priority projects for Mindanao.  (MinDA/PIA-Caraga)