(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Friday, 22 January, 2021) At 3:00 AM today, the Low Pressure Area (LPA) was estimated based on all available data at 220 km East of Kalayaan Islands (10.8°N, 116.1°E). Tail-end of Frontal System (Shear line) affecting the eastern sections of Northern and Central Luzon. Caraga Region will experience Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms due to localized thunderstroms. Possible flash floods or landslides due to severe thunderstorms. Light to Moderate winds coming from East to Southeast will prevail and the coastal waters will be Slight to Moderate / (0.6 to 2.1 meters).

Monday, December 7, 2020

SurSur provincial SK aids marginalized students amid pandemic

By Doreen Marielle N. Rosales

BUTUAN CITY, Dec. 7 (PIA) -- The Provincial Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation of Surigao del Sur donated Php500,000 worth of tablets to the Department of Education (DepEd) office in the province as part of their support to the implementation of distance learning.

“Seeing the plight of the education sector as well as the students in the implementation of distance learning in the province, we wanted to extend assistance and somehow ease the implementation of the new modes of learning and helping underprivileged students in the province,” said Provincial SK Federation President Charles Arreza during his guesting at the Laging Handa Network Briefing episode on Tuesday, December 7, with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Asst. Secretary JV Arcena.

Reams of bond papers were also donated by the youth group to various schools across the province, especially in indigenous people (IP) communities.

The youth group president also hinted other initiatives they will be launching to provide further assistance to the educators and learners in the province.

“We plan on giving out pocket Wi-Fi with load to less fortunate and deserving students. Right now, we are still making the needed preparations to accomplish that plan,” he said. (DMNR/PIA-Caraga)

Remote villages in SurSur receive livelihood aid from gov’t

By Doreen Marielle N. Rosales

BUTUAN CITY, Dec. 7 (PIA) -- Amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the provincial government of Surigao del Sur continues to provide livelihood assistance to hinterland barangays in the province.

“With 313 barangays in the province, majority of which are located in the hinterlands, access to basic services, infrastructure, and livelihood remains a problem to communities in these areas,” said Provincial Governor Alexander Pimentel during his guesting in the Laging Handa Network Briefing episode on Tuesday, December 7, with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Asst. Secretary JV Arcena.

With this, the provincial government appropriates Php 20 million a year from their budget to provide Php500,000 to 40 barangays, particularly the priority barangays identified by the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC).

To ensure that funds are used for the intended purpose, the governor and his team personally conduct visits to barangays to consult with them the kinds of assistance the community members need.

“Each community should be given the right tools fit for their environment and their resource at hand which is why in addition to funding, we also make use of participatory governance and be personally involved with our people’s affairs and needs,” the governor said.

Communities near bodies of water were given assistance to establish livelihoods in aquaculture and fishing while those in the hinterlands opted for farming, planting crops, and poultry and hog raising. Some communities also ventured into merchandising and buy-and-sell businesses.

With issues on livelihood being addressed, the governor says they are slowly addressing other pressing needs of remote communities.

“Residents have been clamoring for the establishment of farm-to-market roads and access to clean water. We are now trying our best to address these with the help of national government agencies,” he said. During the program, he also appealed for additional assistance from the national government to address the said concerns. (DMNR/PIA-Caraga)

SurSur COVID-19 protocols remain strict amid reopening of local economy

By Doreen Marielle N. Rosales

BUTUAN CITY, Dec. 7 (PIA) – While COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Caraga region, local governments are forced to reopen economies to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.

In an effort to hasten the economic recovery of the province of Surigao del Sur, provincial borders have been officially opened on November 15 to welcome local tourists to travel once again to the province’s tourist sites, some of the prominent travel destinations in the country. Establishments and businesses have also resumed operations.

But the easement of protocol did not come without consequences. The public has become more complacent, failing to abide basic health protocol such as social distancing and wearing of face masks.

“As much as we want to continue being strict in imposing protocols, we don’t have much of a choice. This is now a ‘survival of the fittest’ scenario and those who will fail to follow protocol will inevitably contract the disease. However, we will continue to do our part to ensure the safety of the people,” said provincial governor Alexander Pimentel during the Laging Handa Network Briefing episode on Monday, December 7 with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary JV Arcena.

However, local government units in the province are still given the authority to continue imposing certain measures as they see fit for their local health situation. While requiring negative COVID-19 test results upon entering provincial borders had become ineffective, some cities and municipalities such as towns of Cantilan, Carrascal, and Madrid continue to require the presentation of the said test results upon entry in their area.

Meanwhile, the city of Tandag requires individuals coming from high-risk areas to undergo quarantine upon arrival while the city government of Bislig requires visiting individuals to undergo varying levels of quarantine depending on the duration of their stay in the city.

The governor also acknowledged the efforts of the health care workers and non-medical frontline workers such as the police and barangay personnel in responding and helping maintain order in the province.

Efforts to intensify testing in the province were also made through the establishment of a molecular laboratory in the Adela Serra Ty Memorial Medical Center (ASTMMC), the province’s COVID-19 referral hospital and one of the region’s referral hospitals that accommodate severe cases.

Governor Pimentel said that preparations are still being made for the laboratory and staff members are still undergoing training. The molecular laboratory is expected to become operational next week.

Discussing the measures imposed for the influx of tourists during the holidays, the governor said they are requiring tourists from outside the region, especially from high-risk areas, to undergo quarantine. In preparation for scenarios where there might be a surge of confirmed cases, the provincial government has ordered that the third floor of the ASTMMC be vacated. Non-COVID-19 patients confined in the said part of the hospital were transferred to Governor Vicente Pimentel Social Hall.

Upon the conclusion of his guesting, Provincial Governor Pimentel appealed for additional support for the province, especially for equipping their COVID-19 facilities.

“With our current situation, we can definitely say that the pandemic is far from over. With that, we wish to have enough resources to sustain the needs of our people in terms of shielding themselves from the disease and capacitate our local government units down to the barangay level in terms of detection and isolation.”

As of December 6, the province of Surigao del Sur now has a total of 552 confirmed cases, 214 of which are from Bislig City, 114 cases are from Tandag City, and 224 in the remaining areas in the province. (DMNR/PIA-Caraga)

Displaced Manobo community in SurSur swears allegiance to PH law 

TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur, Dec. 7 (PIA) -- Lumad and non-lumad community members of Purok Tubod and in adjacent communities of Sitios Babaraas, Bishop, Nalindog, Tandungan, and Nahikyad wilfully sworn their support to the Philippine Constitution during the joint ceremony of the closing of the conduct of Community Support Program (CSP) operation by 75th Infantry (Marauder) Battalion (75IB) on Saturday, Nov. 27, and the start of the Retooled CSP (RCSP) by the San Miguel Local Government at the open grounds of Purok Tubod, Brgy. Bolhoon, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

This was the communities’ way of retracting their support and membership in the underground mass organization that was established by political officers of CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) Guerilla Front 19 of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), which are comprised predominantly by the Manobos.

Two years ago, these same Manobos were duped to participate in the “Taktikang Bakwit” of the CNTs and stayed for around a year at the Capitol Grounds of Surigao del Sur. During the residency in the area, their children were sent to Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), non-DepEd learning institutions established in Surigao del Sur. The schools were used by the CNTs to divert intensified military operations against the New People’s Army (NPA), and use as a front to collect funds and resources from foreign donors.

After the IPs’ stay in the bakwit site, they returned to their original community in Sitio Nalindog, but eventually went deeper inland and settled to Purok Bugbog which they thereafter renamed as Purok Tubod.

The oath-taking took place during the Grand Pulong-pulong and Serbisyo Caravan in the area, officiated by Town Mayor Hazel H. Elizalde and witnessed by the Philippine Army, representatives from national government agencies and staff of the provincial government.

A mass wedding, dubbed as “Kasalan sa Barangay” was conducted prior to the event, where 25 Manobo couples of different ages were united in matrimony. Rain poured throughout the day but it did not dampen the excitement and joy of the couples, their entourage, and the whole community.

During the Grand Pulong-pulong, Ltc Jeffrey Villarosa, 75IB Battalion Commander rendered the report and expressed his gratitude to provincial and municipal governments and all members of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF ELCAC) for their unconditional partnership which greatly contributed to the successful conduct of CSP.

“Our strong partnership significantly contributed to winning back the support of our populace. From here on, San Miguel RCSP Team will take the lead in the whole-of-nation approach to provide our communities with government services that are peculiar to them,” Villarosa stated.

Datu Leonilo “Tatay Eloy” Wagdos, Purok Bugbog Chairman, was emotional when he addressed the good Mayor and all other visitors from the different agencies of government. He was very thankful for not giving up on his and the community’s “notoriety."

“Sa pila ka tuig nga nagpuyo ko diri sa among yutang kabilin, walay nagpaka bana kanamo maong kami walay mahimo ug nailad jud sa mga New People’s Army (NPA). Pero sa tabang sa pag abot sa presensya sa mga kasundaluhan sa 75IB dinhi sa among lugar mura kami ug nahulugan ug anghel gikan sa langit nga maoy nakaluwas kanako og sa akong mga katribu, naghatag og kadamlag sa sayup nga pagtoo batok sa atong gobyerno. [In my many years of stay here in our ancestral domain, I did not feel nor receive any support from the government. They are reasons why we got easily deceived by the NPAs. The soldiers of 75IB are angels sent from heaven to save me and my tribesmen. They enlightened our minds of the wrong perception about our government),” Wagdos said.

He was more thankful for the visitors’ presence and for seeing for themselves the condition of their community. He was grateful to the Department of Education (DepEd) for immediately sending teachers to their more than a hundred learners the people behind the construction of a clean and secured water system, communal fishpond, and the basketball court.

He also conveyed to the concerned government agency the community’s desire to have better access basic necessities such as a school for the lumad, infrastructure, electricity, and livelihood program and opportunities.

Concerned government agencies such as the National Commission on the Indigenous People (NCIP), the Regional Health Unit (RHU), the Provincial Agriculture Officer, the Chief of Police of San Miguel, the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer (MWSDO), Surigao Electric Cooperative (SURSECO), and the DepEd enunciated their commitment to fulfilling the appeal of the tribal leader. 

In his message, San Miguel IP Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Datu Rico Maca, lauded the local government and the Philippine Army for their commitment to ending insurgency in the area.

“Despite the inclement weather and unpleasant road condition, you came here to provide my fellow Manobos the attention that they need which I know will be translated into concrete actions. I am a staunch believer of our government and I will continue to be against CPP-NPA Terrorists because they continue to deceive, exploit, and kill my fellow tribesmen and all other IP tribes in our country. After all, we refuse to be used and exploited by them,” said Maca.

Mayor Elizalde acknowledged the hardships the community members endured and vowed to serve them better.

“Tubod occupies a big space in my heart and I will do all I can to alleviate your condition. The resources of our municipality are limited but Purok Tubod will be among my priority because I know you are among those who need them most. Under my watch, no one will be left behind,” Elizalde said.

Datu Rudy “Baning” Miranda, a highly respected elder of the community, also conveyed his gratitude on behalf of the community and recounted their experiences during their displacement.

“We are like goats who got astray. While we were wandering, we fell into a pond and were trying to swim to stay afloat. We are very fortunate that the troops from 75IB came. They came and saved us just before we all got drowned," he said.

The Provincial Police Office, through the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC), distributed gifts to the learners of the School of Living Tradition while municipal government turned-over the basketballs and volleyballs. Food packs courtesy of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the provincial government were also distributed to the communities. 

Upon the conclusion of the event, Lt. Col. Villarosa reaffirmed the commitment of the government and the Philippine Army to serving conflict-affected areas and securing peace and order in the entire province.

“Security and development is a tandem that is inseparable. The Marauder Troopers will always be at the forefront to ensure that there are security and peace in our communities, especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged conflict-affected communities such as Purok Tubod and its adjacent communities. As we work on our mandate, we closely partner with all stakeholders so that much-needed interventions can be immediately delivered. Our task here is nowhere close to being over. We are just glad that the “whole-of-nation” is at work in our Area of Operation,” he concluded.  (DMNR/75IB/PIA-Surigao del Sur)

11 PDL sa Agusan del Sur Provincial Jail, naka-quarantine dahil sa COVID-19

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

LUNGSOD NG BUTUAN, Disyembre 7 (PIA) - Naka-quarantine ngayon ang labing-isang Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) sa loob ng Agusan del Sur Provincial Jail na unang nagkaroon ng sintomas ng coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

May hiwalay silang lugar para di na makahawa pa ng iba matapos masuring positibo sila sa virus.

Naging mabilis naman ang aksyon ng Provincial Health Office kaya agad naagapan ang pagkalat pa ng virus sa loob ng piitan.

Ayon kay Mary-Ann Padagas, Nurse I ng provincial correctional security management office (PCSMO)-Agusan del Sur, tinututukan ng mga doktor ang kondisyon ng mga apektadong PDL.

“Sa ngayon, nakita at nasuri na sila ng ating mga doktor mula sa Provincial Health Office at wala na silang sintomas na nakita. Nakapagbigay na rin ang ating mga doktor ng medical supplies at vitamins para sa mga apektadong pdls,” ani ni Padagas.

Tuloy-tuloy din ang pagsasagawa ng contact tracing hindi lang sa mga nasa loob ng piitan, maging sa mga kawani ng Provincial Jail.

Ito ang unang pagkakataon na nagkaroon ng COVID-19 sa Provincial Jail.

“Bagamat sumusunod tayo sa health protocols at iba pang measures na pinapatupad sa ating provincial correctional security management office, hindi kasi natin nakikita ang kinakatakutan nating virus, kaya talagang nagulat din ako kung bakit ganun ang nangyari,” banggit ni Gilbert Ga, acting head ng PCSMO-Agusan del Sur.

Hindi naman mailipat sa mga quarantine facility sa labas ng kulungan ang mga nagpositibo dahil na rin sa dadaanang proseso ng mga ito at kailangan pa ng court order bukod pa sa kinakailangang seguridad.

“Ginagawan na namin ng paraan ang pagkuha ng court order, depende na ito sa korte kung papayagan nilang mailipat ang mga apektadong pdls sa provincial quarantine facility,” dagdag ni Padagas.

Ang mga may ihahatid ay di na pinapapasok at hanggang sa entrance ng nasabing pasilidad lamang nila maaaring ibigay ang mga ito dahil na rin sa mahigpit na seguridad at para maiwasan na ang pagkalat ng virus.

Sa Disyembre a-siete nakatakdang matapos ang pag-quarintine sa 11 PDL na positibo at asymptomatic o walang sintomas ng sakit. (JPG/PIA-Agusan del Sur)