Monday, February 28, 2011

Php10 million fish cage livelihood to benefit Casiguran fisherfolks-Alcala

CASIGURAN, Aurora, February 28, 2011-Casiguran fishermen and indigenous Dumagats here will benefit from a P10-million fish cage livelihood project in Casiguran mariculture park which was initiated by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said that a total of 32 fish cages will be installed by the DA-BFAR at the Casiguran mariculture park through the initiative of Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Congressman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo.

He said that the fish cage features a new design as devised by BFAR called as Alcala fish cage model where bangus and sea cucumber will be raised at the same time, adding that the Bangus will be raised on the top cage, while the sea cucumber will be at the bottom where they will serve as ‘bio filters’ or eaters of surplus feed and wastes of bangus.

Alcala said that every three months, each fish cage is expected to produce at least four tons or 4,000 kilos saying that at the current farmgate price of bangus in Casiguran of P90 per kilo, the fish cage beneficiaries will earn a gross income of P360,000 per harvest.

During the project launch at Casiguran pier, Alcala explained that BFAR wants the small fishermen and the Dumagats to directly benefit from this fish cage livelihood project, saying that we want to change and transform their lives for the better.

“Every two (2) weeks, we will train them to stock and to harvest bangus on a rotation basis so that they will earn a steady income year-round and assist them up to the marketing stage,” Alcala said, adding that they will also put up a mini ice plant with a three-ton capacity to provide the ice requirements of the harvested bangus during transport to markets in Aurora province and nearby provinces such as Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya.

The DA will also provide a refrigerated truck courtesy of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
Earlier, Alcala led the ceremonial stocking of bangus fingerlings and turnover of the initial batch of fish cages to the beneficiaries composed of small fishermen and Dumagats. (Jason de Asis)

Pimentel eyes raps vs Ochoa, Soliman over gov’t CCT program

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, February 28, 2011-Former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who authored the Local Government Code, said he will file a petition to the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the government from implementing the controversial conditional cash transfer (CCT) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as the implementing agency.

During the barangay good governance seminar, Pimentel said that he will file a petition for certiorari with the SC this week to compel the government to stop the DSWD from pushing through with the CCT. He said the petition will name as respondents Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa and DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman.

Pimentel said he is not against the CCT per se but he opposed the DSWD being the lead agency to implement. He said the government should let the local government units to handle the program.

“I am not opposing the CCT although I have reservations about it because I fear it’s a dole-out but the LGUs should be the one to handle it, not the DSWD,” he said. “Afterall, it is the LGUs which have the capability to determine which of the families belong to the poor,” he said.

Pimentel said that the LGC has effectively devolved the functions of the DSWD and national government agencies to LGUs and to let the DSWD handle the program is like reverting to the old set-up.

“Besides who is in the best position to determine the level of poverty in the place, is it the LGU and the barangays,” he asked.

He said by letting the DSWD to run the show, it will defeat the spirit and purpose of genuine autonomy, adding that the DSWD’s plan to tap 4,000 people to implement the program is highly questionable. “Imagine you will hire 4,000 peolple just for that? I don’t think it’s practical,” he said. (Jason de Asis)

Zubiri distributed Php8 million PDAF in Tarlac towns

TARLAC CITY, February 28, 2011-A total of Php8 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Senator Juan Miguel  Zubiri was distributed to several towns in Tarlac for the constructions, repairs and rehabilitation of various school buildings and multi-purpose facilities.

The beneficiaries of the One Town, One Project in Tarlac are the municipalities of San Miguel, Anao, Gerona, Paniqui, Ramos, Victoria, San Jose and La Paz where a brief ceremonial turnover of SARO (Special Allotment Release Order) was conducted by Local chief executives led by Governor Victor Yap and Zubiri at the provincial Capitol.

Zubiri said that it is an important day in the history and he is honored to commemorate EDSA day in Tarlac where the icon of democracy like former President Corazon Aquino, and President Noynoy Aquino started where he encouraged the youth to be "little Cory" of their generation upon visiting the graduation ceremony of Grade 1 and Day Care teachers from Paniqui and Gerona.

After remembering EDSA in Tarlac, Zubiri proceeded to Angeles City, Pampanga as part of a nationwide search for students who excel in academic and civic activities where he launched leadership excellence awards project for high school and elementary students in partnership with the JCI (Junior Chamber Incorporated) dubbed as the “Young Leaders Excellence Awards." (Jason de Asis)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Phl job programs for Middle east OFW’s to get employed needed

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 24, 2011-Senator Manny Villar, who chairs the Senate trade panel urged the government to be ready with job programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to get employed at once and should start stitching up economic safety nets for the thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East who will be forcibly repatriated as the regional conflagration escalates.

Villar said that once the Midde East-OFWs returned, it has economic impact for they will be bloated in the jobless statistics where the Technological Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) could step in to take lead in providing skill training programs to provide job opportunities for them.

He said that as more Middle East-OFWs come home, the consumer spending which was currently riding on the spending appetite of OFW families will likewise slowdown, adding that they would also drive them to be conservative on their spending and ultimately hurt businesses would be the psychological effect to them and their families not directly affected by the Middle East turmoil.

“Aside from shattered dreams, one big casualty of the Middle East unrest is the expected dwindling of US dollar remittances from OFWs in the region that is being rocked by pro-democracy rallies that is threatening to engulf the entire Arab bloc,” Villar said, adding that the Middle East alone is home to more than two million dollar-remitting OFWs, whose monthly remittance could drastically dwindle if the unrest continues.

Villar said OFWs in Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and Libya are now facing bleak employment future because of the protest rallies in its capital cities by the pro-democracy movements that are spreading wildfires and caught in the middle are our OFWs.

Record shows that there are more than 31,000 OFWs in Bahrain, 1,500 employed OFWs in Yemen, 26,000 OFWs in Libya, and about 1,000 Filipino workers in Iran.

“I would dread the day when the civil uprising spills over to neighboring Saudi Arabia, which is the biggest employer of OFWs reaching 1.5 million and collectively remitting some $1.3 billion annually,” Villar said, saying that the latest order of the government to freeze deployment to Bahrain, Yemen and Libra would further hurt the potential growth in OFW remittances from the region.

“The government should not expect another banner year of OFW remittances this 2011 because of the Middle East situation compared to last year’s $18.76 billion record remittances turned in by OFWs around the globe may now be a difficult to beat or replicate,” he said, unless that the unrest simmers down soon, the government may have to look for another economic booster other than the dollars sent by OFWs.

“The foreign banks estimate that the projected OFW’s remittance of $20.5 billion this year is a pipe dream,” he furthered.

Earlier, Villar called on government to assess the economic impact of the Middle East turmoil to local oil prices and ensure the welfare of OFWs in the said place. (Jason de Asis)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Overhauling of COA audit practices and procedures needed-Trillanes

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 23, 2011-Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV said that to cover up massive corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), there is a need for the overhauling of the audit rules and regulations to improve the practices and procedures in the Commission on Audit (COA), following revelations of an alleged conspiracy between state auditors and former high-ranking military officials.

Trillanes has filed Senate Resolution No. 390 to review by the finance committee in regards to the existing laws governing the practices and responsibilities of state auditors and come up with legislation to help COA to fulfill its constitutional mandate in connection with the ongoing investigation into the plea bargain agreement between prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, saying that the auditor and former COA commissioner are allegedly benefited from the wide-scale anomaly involving AFP funds conversion.

“The statement of former AFP budget officer Lt. Col. George Rabusa who manifested that former COA Commissioner Raul Flores and Divina Cabrera, then resident auditor with the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP), allegedly received two (2%) percent of converted funds from erring officials in exchange for their cooperation,” Trillanes cited.

He said that it was also revealed in the senate blue ribbon committee investigation that Cabrera had allegedly sought the help of Rabusa to destroy documents showing how funds for personnel services (PS) or salary of the ISAFP personnel were spent for other purposes in fear that these might be discovered.

“I am concern over Cabrera’s own admission that she had knowledge of the practice of converting military funds but saw nothing irregular in the ISAFP book of accounts based on the documents that were submitted to her,” Trillanes said, explaining that Cabrera’s testimony was a clear violation of agency’s rules and regulations that she was resident auditor of the ISAFP for 13 years (1991-2005).

Trillanes furthered that COA’s resolution No. 87-6 set forth the limit of stay of auditor in a particular agency to a limit of three years only, saying that this is highly irregular and anomalous.

In 2009, 26 state auditors were either dismissed or suspended for administrative cases stemming from irregularities in the performance of duties, 37 auditors have pending cases with the COA chairman’s office while last year, 21 auditors were dismissed or suspended and 46 more have pending cases. Thus, the Senator reiterated that there is a need for a thorough study in auditing rules and regulations to strengthen the practices and procedures within COA and address the obvious gaps by crafting a new law.

The Senator said that the COA is mandated to manage, utilize and safeguard government resources from illegal or improper disposition to ensure efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the government operations. (Jason de Asis)

Laguna Solons impressed by Aurora’s nature

BALER, Aurora, February 23, 2011-Laguna 1st district representative Dan Fernandez and 2nd district congressman Timmy Chipeco expressed here their big surprised in Aurora’s nature rainforest  compared to their province in Laguna.

In their official visit, they shared that the province is really a prime spot for mountain climbing and nature trekking activities due to its large forest reserve areas where its vast lowlands and foothills and the presence of green Sierra Madre Ranges aside from the bountiful beauty of the beaches, coves, rivers and a destiny for surfing, adding that the variety of terrain coupled with the abundance of clear streams, waterfalls and vegetation can make for a trekking experience as unique and challenging and even bird watching as one can plan.

“Your province is truly a haven compared to our place in Laguna; hence, there is a need to preserve its richness,” the two solons said, adding that Aurora has the largest rain forests in Luzon.

They said that the province has been blessed by God for having a beautiful nature and the best leader like Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Congressman Juan Edgardo Angara and Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo who received prestigious awards in the country.

“The villagers of the province are very lucky for having them,” the duo said, saying that they are the real leaders who have build credibility and integrity in the line of service for the people. (Jason de Asis)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chiz urges Phl for prisoner exchange with other country

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 22, 2011-Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights yesterday has urged the government for the prisoner-exchange agreement that should be pursued through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) by way of a bilateral treaty, explaining that there is a need that the country should initiate a prisoner exchange treaty with countries hosting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“In the light of the case of Ramon Credo, Sally Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain, Filipinos condemned to die for drug trafficking in China,” the Senator said, saying that their executions were temporarily suspended after China's Supreme Court extended a special arrangement regarding their cases.

“The government could work out negotiations with other countries similar to the RP-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement, which aims to ensure the effective reformation and rehabilitation of Filipinos serving sentences in Spain since they will be afforded the opportunity to serve their sentences in the Philippines,” he said, adding that our OFWs serving long sentences and are awaiting death sentences in countries where no family can visit them.

“This is already a scourge to both the convicted and their families. The anguish of not being able to talk to or see their families forever is already a sentence that amounts to death," Escudero said, adding that the agreement should not be on a quid-pro-quo-basis, which means that all prisoners should be transferred to their country of origin regardless of the number of foreign nationals in Philippine prisons.

“There is a need to pursue this treaty,” Escudero said, since our countrymen are in foreign jails rather than the other way around.

Escudero said that the government should move on it but not to condone what their deeds are but because it is the government's duty to look after the welfare of its citizens no matter if they are guilty or not, reiterating that the government should make available remedies and steps be exhausted to assist our countrymen.

More than 3,000 Filipinos abroad who are either in detention or facing criminal prosecution according to the DFA records and 70 percent are embroiled in immigration-related offenses and will be deported after serving brief sentences while the rest are in custody for crimes such as theft and drug trafficking.

78 Filipinos are convicted for drug charges and awaiting death sentences in China.

There are 630 Filipinos currently serving jail sentences worldwide for transporting drugs who are mostly dummies for drug lords where sixty two percent of them are female according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. (Jason de Asis)

3 million OFWs in Middle East need immediate attention

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 22, 2011-Senator Manny Villar, chairman of the Senate trade committee said that there is a need for immediate attention for a thorough study on the implications of the spread of hostilities across more Middle East countries on world oil prices and the national economy where around 3,000,000 Filipinos are situated in the Middle East and North Africa, adding that an estimated 6,000 Filipinos are in Egypt, around 40,000 workers in Bahrain and more than 10,000 workers in Libya.

Villar urged the government to make sure that the embassies in these two countries are fully-supported with contingency funds and manpower to assist our workers to safety when the situation calls for it while outbreaks of violence continue the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) advocate in the Senate said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should lose no time in coming up with the appropriate travel advisories to warn Filipinos against traveling to Bahrain and Libya.

In the rising political tension in the two countries, Villar said that there may be workers leaving the country who are unaware about what's going on in Bahrain and Libya, advising that it may be wiser and safer for them to wait until the situation normalizes.

He called that at the very least, these workers should be instructed to immediately get in touch with the Philippine Embassy upon arrival for better coordination as tensions continue to engulf the Middle East.

He added that there is a need to be vigilant and to be prepared to deal with its impact on tens of thousands of Filipino workers in the region as well as on the incomes of their families here at home.

“The world oil prices continue to be affected by outbreaks of violence in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia and Bahrain,” he said, adding that the soaring oil prices could lead to further erosion of incomes and savings here at home. Thus, the government needs to be completely thorough in studying the effects of a prolonged crisis in the Middle East on world oil prices and overseas remittances.

Earlier, Villar also urged the trade, energy and labor departments to come up with a comprehensive study and concrete proposals on how an escalation of hostilities between protesters and government forces could impact on the national economy and the welfare of overseas Filipino workers. (Jason de Asis)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Central Luzon police 2010 accomplishment eyes bigger for 2011

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga, February 21, 2011-PNP Central Luzon Director Alan Purisima presented the significant accomplishments of the PNP last year’s campaigns on crime prevention and control during a regional peace and order summit at Clark Freeport and eyeing for 2011 much higher accomplishments.

Purisima reported that central Luzon police was able to reduce supply of illegal drugs due to the arrest of 695 persons (377 pushers and 318 users) by the PNP during its operations that resulted to the confiscation of 22.740 kilos of marijuana and two kilos of shabu with a total value of Php3.95 million.

On its anti-carnapping campaign, the police conducted 219 anti-carnapping operations that resulted to the arrest of 119 persons, recovery of 161 carnapped vehicles and subsequent filing of 60 carnapping cases in court.

The police also busted 12 criminal gangs operating in Central Luzon that led to the arrest of 21 criminals and the recovery of seven assorted firearms. Three cases against syndicated crime groups have been filed by the PNP in court.

Intelligence operations of the PNP-PRO3 against organized crime groups and criminal gangs also yielded to the neutralization of notorious and most wanted personalities in the region and captured one of those in the regional wanted list, 164 criminals in the provincial wanted list and 232 other wanted persons.

On its campaign against loose firearms, the PNP recorded a total of 356 operations that resulted to the confiscation and recovery of 439 assorted firearms of different calibers and these operations also became instrumental to the arrest of 448 persons and the filing of 198 cases in court.

Purisima said that the PNP-PRO3 is set to deploy an additional two hundred (200) police force in their provinces which aims to beef up police operations in the region and to strengthen police visibility to serve and to protect its citizenry. (Jason de Asis)

Bulacan aimed to be the 15th over-all champion in CLRAA

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, February 21, 2011-Bulacan department of Education (DepEd) physical education supervisor Dr. Iluminada Estinos said that Bulacan aims to be the 16th over-all champion in the ongoing 2011 Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association (CLRAA) meet that it is hosting, saying that their student-athletes are well prepared and are ready to compete in front of their provincemates where they hit the general championship trophy from 1991 to 1994, 1996 to 2000, in 2004 and from 2006 to 2010.

Deped central Luzon reported that there are approximately 8,000 elementary and secondary student-athletes from the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales and the cities of Angeles, Cabanatuan, Olongapo, San Jose Del Monte, San Fernando, Gapan, Tarlac, Muñoz, Malolos, Balanga and San Jose are currently participating in the said six day sports meet.

The CLRAA 2011 opened yesterday in a parade that started from the mini-forest inside the capitol compound and ended at the Bulacan Sports Complex where a short opening program followed.
The game proper is set to start today at the eight assigned playing venues namely the Malolos Central School, Calumpit Central School, Capitol Gymnasium, General Isidoro Torres Memorial Elementary School, Bulacan Sports Complex, Marcelo H. del Pilar National High School covered gym, Sta. Isabel Elementary School and Bulacan State University Activity Center where the CLARAA 2011 will culminate on February 25 for the awarding ceremony.

The region’s bet in the upcoming Palarong Pambansa in Dapitan City will be chosen from the medalists and champions. (Jason de Asis)

Angara filed ICT 2011 choice bill

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 21, 2011-In today’s modernization, Senator Edgardo J. Angara  has filed Senate Bill 2670 to regulate and to promote a transparent and non-discriminatory manner in the acquisition of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions and seeks to establish a neutral policy in the government’s selection and procurement of ICT solutions based on product quality and the current and future needs of the state. 

Angara explained that the rapidly evolving ICT landscape in the freedom of customizing the technological systems is essential so that each component is chosen based on its own merits, thus the Senator filed the said bill commonly known as the Information and Communications Technology Choice act of 2011 in the Senate early this month “An Act Requiring Technological Choice in the Government’s Procurement of Information and Communication Technology Standards and Solutions.”

He said that the bill discourages vendor lock-ins rooted in political reasons, which discourage genuine research and development, and reduce competitiveness among the system providers, saying that the responsible for the implementation of the policy will be the joint effort of the Government Procurement Policy Board, the Commission on Information and Communications Technology and the Commission on Audit.
The said bill has been referred to the Committee on Science and Technology after its First Reading. (Jason de Asis)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Laguna solon Chipeco calls if Reyes be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, why not the late President Marcos

BALER, Aurora, February 20, 2011-Laguna 2nd district Rep. Timmy Chipeco calls that if a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Phailippines (AFP) can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, then “why not a former President who was a former soldier and a war hero,” as he joined calls to have former President Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Chipeco, who was among the guests yesterday in the 32nd foundation anniversary of the province along with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director general Joel Villanueva together with Laguna 1st district Rep. Dan Fernandez, said that he sees no point in having a former defense secretary being buried at the Libingan when a former president could not be. He was apparently referring to the late former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes who was buried at the Libingan after committing suicide over corruption allegations.

Chipeco said that Marcos should have been buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani a long time ago, adding that if that has been done a long time ago, then there’s nothing to talk about.        

Fernandez said it’s high time to bury the ghosts of the past by allowing Marcos to be buried at the Libingan. “After all, he has also done great achievements for the country. It’s not all bad. There is something in him that we can consider good also,” he said.

The two lawmakers were commenting on the appeal of Marcos’ son Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to President Aquino to grant his father and namesake a state burial to take away yet another issue that divides the nation.

He explained that his father deserves a state burial by virtue of his services as a soldier during the Second World War, being a former commander-in-chief and twice elected president. (Jason de Asis)

Bulacan pledged DOH’s campaign versus leprosy

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, February 20, 2011-In a recent observance of Leprosy Prevention of Leprosy Prevention and Control week last February 14 to 18, the Bulacan provincial government pledged support to the Department of Health’s (DOH) campaign which aimed for Leprosy-Free Philippines.

Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado has ordered a wider information dissemination campaign to inform the Bulakenyos of the disease’s symptoms, prevention and treatment where the Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) recorded that there are 13 Persons afflicted with Leprosy (PWL) at present and are undergoing medications.
Alvarado said that other Bulakenyos suffering from leprosy should be identified in order that the Bulacan government can immediately help them for treatment at the soonest time possible, adding that there are free medications from DOH for this illness, the affected individuals can also ask for medicines from the nearest health centers.
The Leprosy which is known as Hansen's disease is a chronic, mildly communicable disease caused by infection from “mycobacterium leprae”, a rod-shaped, acid-fast bacillus which primarily affects the skin, the mucous membranes, especially those in the nose and the peripheral nervous system, adding that the mode of transmission of the disease is airborne, where a person can inhale droplets or spray from coughing and sneezing of untreated cases.

The signs and symptoms of a persons with Leprosy (PWL) has a long standing skin lesions that do not disappear with ordinary treatment, loss of feeling or numbness on the skin, loss of sweating and hair growth over the skin lesions, and thickened and painful nerves in the neck, forearm, near elbow joint, and the back of knees.

DOH said that once diagnosed early, the patients are put under treatment with Multiple Drug Therapy (MDT) have big chance of healing and leprosy bacilli-causing disease maybe controlled through treatment of all leprosy cases to prevent spread of infection, practice of personal hygiene and healthful living, clean environment, enough rest and exercise and avoid contact with PWL, among others, saying that leprosy should not be taken lightly because it creates a high physical and social toll, resulting to deformity and disability of the patient if left untreated. (Jason de Asis)

Aurora tourism industry grows rapidly says Angara-Castillo

BALER, Aurora, February 20, 2011-Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo lauded all the leaders of the entire province for their continuous efforts in supporting the provincial government where she said that Aurora now are continuing to become bigger as its economic uprise grows rapidly, adding that Aurora has received various awards in the country.

Angara-Castillo, who received the outstanding governor of the Philippines and the most child friendly public servant of the 1st NCCT DepEd Lingkod TV Awards under the executive category, said that the people of Aurora are her inspiration in doing great achievements together with Senator Edgardo J. Angara who also received the same award under the legislative category, while Congressman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara garnered One of the Ten (10) outstanding Young Men “TOYM” of the Philippines, citing also the best Aurora provincial tourism officer of the year gained by Mr. Michael Palispis.

In an exclusive interview with Angara-Castillo, the province is now ready for global competitiveness as it became the top 10 priority province to promote overseas by the Department of Tourism because of its haven beaches and one of the country’s surfing destiny where tourists visited the place. “Ang promotion sa Aurora ay hindi lang local kundi global competitiveness,” she said, however she pointed out that she don’t want Aurora to be like Boracay.

“What I like is to preserve the province for having the biggest forest in the country promoting nature, environment and expound networking of Aurora tourism and agriculture as the fundamentals of development,” Angara-Castillo said, adding that Aurora has an economically well develop agriculture technology in the entire province.

She said that Aurora tourism industry boomed 300 percent last year, saying that there are numerous businessmen who would like to put up hotels in Aurora but she said that she would like to limit the building structure for five (5) floors only and not like Boraciay with towering hotels and establishments in different heights which give the impression of disorderliness and irregularities. (Jason de Asis)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

DOE ensures no maltreatment in oil pricing

CLARK, Pampanga, February 19, 2011-The Department of Energy (DOE) ensures the public that there will be no maltreatment in setting a price in case another oil price hike becomes imperative in the recent strategic planning in Clark Freeport Zone.

DOE Undersecretary Jose Layug, Jr. clarified that it is the mandated to the energy department to monitor oil prices, however, it cannot, at any rate, dictate oil companies to lower their prices, citing that there are times when it becomes imperative for oil companies to raise prices based on the level of price of petroleum products at the world market.

Layug guaranteed that there is enough oil reserve in the country at present and that abuse in oil pricing will never be tolerated, adding that the DOE is currently looking at the possibility of conducting more oil and gas explorations, mentioning about a bill that is bent on being filed at the congress for the purpose of legitimizing more oil and gas exploration activities in the country.

Layug also said that the country has enough supply on electricity, saying that no shortage now, but when summertime comes, the demand scales up tremendously that’s the reason he encourages everyone for the efficient use of vehicles and electricity.

“We need to look at where we can fix the problem especially on electric power industry to ensure that we will not have shortage,” Layug said, reminding the public to conserve oil and energy especially during times when prices of oil and commodities rise. (Jason de Asis)

Aurorans reminisce 1735 tsunami in the celebration of the 32nd foundation anniversary

BALER, Aurora, Feruary 19, 2011-Aurorans celebrated yesterday its 32nd foundation anniversary and the 123rd birth anniversary of the late former First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon after whom it was named with the usual pomp and pageantry but with a different tack: reminiscing the deadly 1735 “tromba marina” that killed 500 families and wiped out the old township.

For the first time in its annual anniversary celebrations, Aurorans led by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Baler Mayor Arthur J. Angara and the entire officialdom of the province formally launched the “Kinagunasan Festival, a festival of hope, a celebration of life.”

Angara-Castillo said that the historical event inspired the Angaras to translate and to interpret the occurrence into artistic dances and movements and into powerful sounds and music, the chaos, violence, merry-making, struggles, entertainment and the daily activities of the townsfolk, adding that the festival was launched to show to the public the determination of the people of Aurora to survive trials and challenges. “Not only to survive but to survive with success and rebuild their lives,” she said.

Some 115 students performed the Kinagunasan dance portraying the historic tragedy, complete with props where each of the performing students were given P1,000 each by Angara-Castillo in recognition of their feat.     

“Kinagunasan (wiped out) is the local term for the “Tromba Marina” or tsunami that hit the town in 1735. The tsunami was survived by only seven families, including the Angaras, who went up the Mt. Castillo, a neighboring hill now called Ermita Hill. A replica of the old town and the survivors are now placed at the slope of Ermita Hill. Other survivors were the families of Bihasas, Bitongs, Carrascos, Ferreras, Lumasacs and Pobletes, saying that  due to the sad episode of the villagers, the Bitongs migrated to San Jose (now Maria Aurora) and the Bihasas to Inategan (now San Luis). The Angaras were believed to be migrants who came alone with the Franciscan missionaries from neighboring provinces.

This year’s anniversary rites carries the theme: “Broadening Aurora’s Competitiveness in the Global Economy.” Yesterday’s rites started with a morning Mass at the Baler Central School and a street parade and the unveiling of the marker for Baler 400 years monument at the Baler town hall. The Angaras then laid a wreath at the bronze statue of Doña Aurora at the Capitol compound together with Ricky Quezon Avanceña, one of her descendants.   

Historians said the killer tsunami hit the town at 2 am on December 27, 1735, risings rapidly that within a few hours, even the terrain where the town existed also vanished.

Fray Jose de San Rafael, then the parish priest of Casiguran town, was on vacation in Baler when the tsunami struck. He swam his way to Point Baja to survive.

The priest recalled that shortly before the tsunami struck, the sacristan major of the convent called his attention to the rising wave engulfing the town. He considered it weird since there was no sign or manifestation of impending bad weather.

After the devastation, a new town was carved on a hilly terrain west of Baler Bay with the old town named Kinagunasan. (Jason de Asis)

Sec. Alcala to concentrate to Aurora’s coconut center and other DA projects

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DINALUNGAN, AURORA, February 19, 2011-Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala yesterday said that his office and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) should concentrate to the Php216 million Aurora Province Coconut Development Center (APCDC) project in a 133-hectare public land under the jurisdiction of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) located at Barangay Dibaraybay here and other DA projects to address food security and to become supplier of coconut varieties in Luzon.

Alcala said that the research training is pompous in a coconut seed farm to produce quality seed nuts and there is a need to focus in the combined technology in the traditional and modern coconut farming.

“It is a blatant truth that APCDC serves as a great help in northern Aurora to become self-sustainable but we have to choose the best research among them,” Alcala said. “Mag-concentrate tayo patungo sa iisang layunin, mahirap kapag puro research,” he advised.

Alcala also lauded Senator Edgardo J. Angara and Congressman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara for their efforts in building the pioneering facility that will cater to the needs for coconut planting materials in the province and in the whole of Luzon, where the Php5,816,503.41 million two storey administration building, Php1,608,050.38 million perimeter fence, Php 1,847,117.38 million access road and the Php1,101,045.52 million elevated water tank were inaugurated last January 22.

There are eighty six employees who managed and planted coconut mother palm varieties in the APCDC like embryo-cultured macapuno, tacunan dwarf, catigan dwarf, synvar, baybay tall, san ramon tall and open pollinated variety-Baler with a total of 15,553 seedlings and intercrops set.

The APCDC project started on January 5, 2008 and formally established on October 2, 2008 following the signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) of the four (4) implementing agencies such as DENR, PCA, Dinalungan LGU and the provincial government where the funds earmarked for the site development, planting of mother coco palms, construction of laboratories among others for its initial operation, adding that the funding came from the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) appropriations.

Back to Alcala, he ordered the PCA’s for the massive coconut planting and replanting, saying that APCDC will play in the development of coconut industry in the entire Luzon citing the vital infrastructure access road to Central Luzon, Quirino-Madella Dipaculao, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Cordilleras and the Aurora ecozone in Casiguran town.

Sec. Alcala, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Atty. Malcolm I. Sarmiento, Jr. and BFAR regional director Remedios E. Otangco also launched the fish cage livelihood project in Casiguran mariculture park held at Barangay Dibacong here to provide alternative fish source of income and to contribute food security production of milkfish in addressing the needs of region 2 and 3.

They also visited the Dipaculao Multi species fish nursery where they said that the area in Sitio Lobbot, Brgy. Mijares is the most suitable area for nursery following the turn-over of patrol boat to Mr. Rex Magen, the project manager of Aurora Mariculture Park (Nursery, Hatchery, Sea Cage) to be used by the project to protect the area.  (Jason de Asis)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baler “KINAGUNASAN-a festival of hope, a celebration of life” launch today

BALER, Aurora, February 18, 2011-The first launching of “Kinagunasan-a festival of hope, a celebration of life will be graced today by Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Congressman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo and Mayor Arthur J. Angara to commemorate the significance of it in the Philippine history which will be held at the provincial Capitol in this town as part of the 32nd foundation anniversary of Aurora.

Angara was once UP president and has authored and sponsored several landmark laws for the culture and the arts, said that way back December 27, 1735 at two o’clock before the sun ups a phenomenal tidal wave washed away the old town of Baler. A tide rose at such a velocity that within a few hours even the terrain where the town existed had also disappeared.

Fray Jose de San Rafael, OFM, the parish priest of Casiguran was on vacation in Baler when the event happened and he was among the survivors who made their way up the hill of Point Baja by swimming.

He narrated that about two o’clock in the morning of December 27, 1735, the sacristan major of the convent called his attention to the rising tidal wave engulfing the town. It was a weird occurrence for there was no sign or manifestation of impending bad weather. The previous night was clear and starry. Neither were the towns of Casiguran, the mission of Dipaculao and the hamlet of Dingalan were affected regardless of the fact that these places were located along the same shorelines.

The old folks referred to the devastated town as the KINAGUNASAN. Those who survived the catastrophic event fled and took refuge at Mt. Castillo, a neighboring hill now called Ermita.

Since the coming of the group of Fray Blas Palomino, OFM, in 1609 to the event of the Tromba Marina in 1735, there was an interval of one hundred twenty six (126) years. The records on Tromba Marina mentioned a number of families survived foremost of which were the Angara, Bihasa, Bitong, Carrasco, Ferreras, Lumasac and Poblete clans.  Because of their harrowing experience, the Bitong’s went to settle in San Jose (now Maria Aurora) and the Bihasa’s went to “Inategan”, today San Luis.

The Lumasac’s  remained in Baler and the Bitong’s traced their roots from the Ilongots, the Bihasa’s from the Aetas while the Angara’s were believed to be migrants who came alone with the Franciscan missionaries from the neighboring provinces.

Post Tromba Marina resident were either brought by the Spaniards as convent boys or menials and others were migrants from the neighboring towns of Palanan, Casiguran, Infanta and Pantabangan. They either came by the sea or by following the trails used by the Dumagats and the Spanish friars from Nueva Ecija and Quezon by way of Palanan, Polilio and Infanta.

Fray Manuel de Olivencia, OFM established the mission of San Jose de Casecnan now known as the town of Maria Aurora in 1753. It was a settlement at the junction of several rivers inhabited mostly by Elongots Casecnan to the Ilongots (now referred to as Bugkalots) meant the place where the rivers meet. The natives found their settlements by the rivers for transport and trading purposes.

The mission of Dipaculao in Ditale and the mission of San Jose de Casecnan were two (2) Ilongot communities. The Ilongots established their territorial jurisdiction in the hinterlands and the mountains and let the Dumagats reigned along the coastal areas.

After the devastation, a new town was resurrected on a hilly terrain west of Baler Bay. The previous site of the town that was wiped out by the devastating tidal wave was renamed “Kinagunasan” (washed out). Except for the memories and legend that it has left behind, the destruction of the old town still remains a mystery to this day.

This historical event became the inspiration of the Angaras to translate and interpret the occurrence into artistic dance and movements and into powerful sound and music, the chaos, violence, merrymaking, struggles, entertainment and everyday activities of the townsfolk.

Angara, who is a native of this town wanted to reflect how the survivors struggled and rise in unity and cooperation to rebuild of what remained of the KINAGUNASAN, saying that this is only the beginning for the Aurorans to keep it alive and make sure that the tradition will continue to the succeeding generations.

Aurora Provincial Tourism Officer Michael Palispis said that this year’s commemorative rites carry as its theme “Broadening Aurora’s Competitiveness in the global economy” celebrating its 32nd Aurora Day foundation  anniversary, informing the whole world of the identity of this town identity through “Kinagunasan”.

Palispis said that Baler town, located 232 kilometers north of Manila on the shore of a horseshoe-shaped coastal valley overlooking the Pacific Ocean is rich in cultural heritage not only as Quezon’s birthplace but also for being the last bastion of Spanish forces during the Spanish Revolution.

The old Kinagunasan (township) was wiped out when a “tsunami” struck on December 27, 1735, killing 500 families. Only five families survived, including the Angaras.

Several stories account for the origin of the name Baler, the most popular of which was believed to have come from the word “Balod,” a large Paloma Montes (mountain dove) that abounded in the place.

Baler, to historians, was a place where pigeons came home to roost or a place to come home to. And that no matter where Balerianos go in their search for glory and fortune, they would always hope of coming back.

From a depressed town, Baler has flourished into a progressive municipality housing a public market, a fish port, sports complex, people’s center, a P130-million integrated rice processing complex among other facilities. (Jason de Asis)


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