(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Thursday, 23 May 2019) Mindanao will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers due to localized thunderstorms. Light to moderate winds from Northeast to Northwest with slight to moderate seas. PAGASA Mindanao/jaf

Friday, January 4, 2019

New Year’s gift of fortitude: Help protect the environment
by Harold Clavite


In 2018, we started banning single-use plastic in the Philippine Information Agency. This is our institutional response to critical conditions of our environment where the main culprit is man’s irresponsibility and inability to care for the environment due to limited information.

On a planned New Year’s Eve event in Manila to obtain a Guinness world record on the largest balloon drop, which private entities Cove Manila and Okada Manila eventually cancelled due to public outcry, around 130,000 latex balloons were prepared to be released. Balloon drop is a practice of many businesses, not only in the Philippines but in many parts of the United States and several other countries, as part of company milestones and/or public celebrations. While organizers claim that the event was designed not to hurt the environment, this is a manifestation and indication of the inability to see what is beneficial and what is not for the environment. There are several balloons falsely advertised as “biodegradable latex” and regardless of all claims, they end up polluting places where they end up and are usually mistaken by animals as food causing their death. See how BalloonsBlow.org clearly points this out: https://balloonsblow.org/latex-balloons-still-kill/.

Such acts can be seen as irresponsible and may send the message that entertainment and sales take precedence over the welfare of the environment. Unfortunately, a single uninformed decision on these matters may compromise attempts to protect the environment by governments and non-profit organizations.

Our commitment this year is to not only talk about environmental advocacies within our organization but to continue to support, in terms of publicity and promotion, the National Environmental Health Action Plan (NEHAP) 2017-2022. Our goal is to increase the number of people and communities who understand this plan and we continue to work closely with the Environmental Management Bureau and relevant government and private entities to push for these advocacies. Secondly, our support to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs) shall continue and, in particular, to use public information and communication strategies to promote urgent action against climate change and its impact. Our work plans this year would see an increased public engagement through forums, consultations, and multi-sector interactions and include environment as an important point of discussion, in addition to several other relevant issues.

At the same time, we call on every citizen to take important steps to be part of this advocacy. It is a must for everyone to fully understand the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law in the Philippines and for people to fully embrace it. Just recently, a senate bill has been filed— the Single-Use Plastics Regulation and Management Act of 2018, which aims to regulate the manufacturing, importation, and use of single-use plastic products. While we await creation and enforcement of new laws, we must do our share to avoid or eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste. Gone are the days where man is unable to understand the connection between waste management and a sustainable world. The ability to decipher what is wrong or right for the environment is a decision one has to urgently make. Most, if not all, would choose to live in a better world— let us choose to extend it a bit longer so that it would not only benefit ours and our children’s family lines but several more future generations.

Whether they are government or private sector-led, companies, organizations, and communities must consider the environment in its decisions and in the conduct of celebrations, occasions, and even down to its day-to-day activities including printing of documents and ordering food.

Since 2019 is an election year, Filipinos must be able to identify with and support leaders who can present a doable plan of action to protect the environment. As a Filipino citizen and a government official, I demand for political agenda that is focused on environmental protection and immediate action on climate change, among other equally important societal concerns and issues.

It is never too late. We cannot keep repeating the same mistakes and we must decide to make it right this time. Let us continue to be the responsible citizens that we are now and become watchdogs ourselves to ensure we contribute to making this world truly better and sustainable for our children and our children’s children and for many more generations to come.

It is not going to be very easy but we must endure all difficulty and begin this new year with fortitude by showing altruistic motivation to help protect our environment.

NGEI beneficiaries rejoice over land allocation



By Rechel D. Besonia,

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur, Jan. 4 -- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Provincial Office here has recently conducted the Ceremonial apportionment of NDC Guthrie Estates Incorporated (NGEI) landholdings to three Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organizations (ARBOs) cum signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and Distribution of Certificate of Land Allocation held at the DAR Provincial Office lobby, San Francisco, this province.

DAR-Caraga Regional Director Leomides R. Villareal, Asst. Regional Director for Operations (ARDO) Cenon S. Original, PARPO II Leoncio C. Bautista Jr., PARPO I Allan N. Mundala, FPPI General Manager Gil T. Delos Santos Jr., attended the said event.

“This is indeed an early Christmas gift for all of our Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries. We are glad that after several meetings and negotiations we now come to this moment of apportioning the lands to three groups who have long been waiting for this time to happen,” RD Villareal said.

PARPO Bautista was likewise grateful that finally the goal of bringing back once harmonious relationship among the three groups have been rekindled.

“In behalf of the Department of Agrarian Reform Agusan del Sur, we are happy that we have come this far, we owe this success to the cooperation of the three groups,” he said.

More than a thousand ARBs celebrated the ceremonial apportionment of the NGEI landholdings after the three groups agreed to divide and apportion the awarded land and had acknowledged that each group will receive a compact and contiguous land awarded under CARP proportionate to the number of ARB members of each group.

It can be recalled that during the advent of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 1988, the vast tracts of agricultural lands owned by the NDC situated at Rosario and San Francisco Agusan del Sur were offered for CARP coverage pursuant to Executive Order No. 407 as amended by Executive Order No. 448.

However, because of several cases that ensued including managerial issues and concerns, the members have formed themselves into three breakaway groups, thus, the problem existed.

Nevertheless, the DAR have never stopped in helping to recuperate the situation and look after the welfare of the affected ARBs.

“Nalipay gyud me ug dako nga sa kaulahian nakab-ot namo ang dugay na namong gipangandoy nga diin kami karon makatagamtam na sa yuta nga gihatag kanamo. Salamat sa walay hunong nga tabang sa DAR kanamo (We are very thankful that in the end we have achieved our dream of having our own land. Thank you for the unending support and assistance of DAR to us,” NGEI MPC Chairperson Jimmy Magbanua said. (DAR-Agusan del Sur/PIA-Agusan del Sur)