Thursday, August 9, 2012

MOA Signing for the Jalaur Project

TOWARDS RICE SELF SUFFICIENCYPresident Benigno S. Aquino III witnesses the signing of an P8.95-billion loan agreement with the Republic of Korea to construct the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project-Stage II. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and Export-Import Bank of Korea Executive director San-Wan Byun led the signing, while Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala, Senator Franklin M. Drilon and two officials of EXIM Bank look on.

TOWARDS RICE SELF SUFFICIENCY. L-R)  Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala, Senator Franklin M. Drilon , Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, President Benigno S. Aquino III, Export-Import Bank of Korea Executive director San-Wan Byun and other two officials of EXIM Bank pose for a photo opportunity after the signing of an P8.95-billion loan agreement with the Republic of Korea to construct the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project-Stage II .


MANILA, August 9, 2012-We condole with the thousands of families throughout Metro Manila and Luzon who lost loved ones and homes, and who suffered immensely due to the devastating rains and flooding.

This has been the second such massive devastation in three years. Then as in now, the Filipinos' generosity, unity, and strong civic spirit shone through. We laud the heroes, everyone who risked life and limb, to rescue those in danger.

We call on the national and local governments to complement the resilience of our people with the resilience of our cities. We have been spending more on relief and rehabilitation rather than on long-term solutions that will reduce our risks and vulnerabilities--and prevent such disastrous impacts from happening again.

When we deliberate on the national budget for next year, we will scrutinize the government's disaster management plan. We expect it--and will require it--to be anchored on risk reduction, mitigation, and adaption.

If natural calamities such as this rampaging monsoon are indeed the "new normal", then the government ought to be implementing strategies it has not done so before.

Tubig to Bigas: From Jalaur to Pinas PNoy witnesses P11.2-B deal sealed today; Drilon says project to bolster PHL’s rice self-sufficiency target

MANILA, August 9, 2012-President Benigno S. Aquino III witnessed today the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Philippines and South Korea which provides for P8.95-billion official development assistance (ODA) to the country to construct the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project-Stage II (JRMP), said Senator Franklin M. Drilon.

The signing was held at the Malacanang Palace with Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and Export-Import Bank of Korea Executive director San-Wan Byun who led the signing.

“The country is another notch closer toward its rice self-sufficiency target by 2013 after the Philippines has finally sealed the P8.9-billion loan agreement with the Republic of Korea to fund an agriculture infrastructure in Iloilo which is seen to improve the agricultural productivity, said Drilon.

The project dubbed as “Tubig to Bigas: From Jalaur to Pinas” clearly speaks of what Iloilo can contribute to the country in becoming the source of strength of Philippines in terms of agricultural productivity.

“This project will be Iloilo’s contribution to the vision of President Aquino to equip the country with food security soon. Once completed, this project will make Western Visayas the rice granary of the Philippines once again,” said Drilon.

“Aside from being one of the most significant green projects in Panay Island in the recent years because of its pro-environment features, this project will serve as a major step in improving the agricultural productivity and ultimately secure the rice self-sufficiency for the Philippines,” added Drilon.

“Indeed, sound agriculture policies and programs and big-ticket irrigation projects like the Jalaur Multi-Purpose Project Phase II, will bring about increased rice production, stabilize food prices and wages and eventually result in a stronger and vibrant national economy,” stressed Drilon, who was instrumental in the realization of JRMP.

The project which costs P11.2 billion – P2.2 billion is Philippine’s counterpart fund – will be the first large-scale reservoir dam outside of Luzon and will provide uninterrupted irrigation water supply to 32,000 hectares of farm land and benefit more than 783,000 farmers, pointed out Drilon.

This will increase the irrigated lands in the region by around 10 percent and the annual regional rice production by around five percent. It will likewise expand the production areas of sugarcane and other crops, noted Drilon.

As a multi-purpose project, it will provide benefits such as flood mitigation and control, and the promotion of eco-tourism in selected reservoir areas.

On top of these, the project will also generate approximately 17,000 local jobs equivalent to P1.3 billion in basic wages per year.

The Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project II is envisioned to augment agricultural production, stimulate agri-industrial activities, spur the local economy and the eco-tourism industry, increase employment opportunities and contribute to the development of the Province of Iloilo and the Western Visayas, in general.

Drilon recalled that implementation of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project was mandated under Republic Act No. 2651 enacted by Congress in 1960. Phase one of the project, which consisted of rehabilitating the irrigation systems with an area of 22,340 hectares, was completed in 1983. But Phase 2 of the project was never implemented since 1988 due to lack of funds and the apparent indifference on the part of the national government.

Legarda Highlights Role of Indigenous Media in Giving Voice to Cultural Communities

MANILA, August 9, 2012-As nations celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP), Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the role of indigenous media in giving voice to cultural communities.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, said that the country must support indigenous peoples in developing their own media in order to assert the rights of our IPs and to promote the rich Filipino culture that they strive to preserve. The theme for the 2012 IDWIP is “Indigenous media, empowering indigenous voices”.

“There are 110 IP groups in the Philippines, with each community possessing its own traditional knowledge that had been passed on from one generation to the other. But how many of these groups are known to us? How many Filipinos are aware of them? Many of us do not realize that various aspects of our modern lifestyle originated from traditional practices. They can help us dig deeper into their traditional knowledge and relate it to our modern living so that Filipinos will have greater appreciation of our culture and concern for our culture bearers' welfare,” she stressed.

The Senator also said that IP-related programs of government agencies need to be promoted to help gain support from various sectors.

Legarda cited efforts from government agencies and various stakeholders to safeguard the country’s IPs and cultural treasures—the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is undertaking capacity-building activities on various facets of preserving the Philippine heritage; the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) is working closely with other agencies to strengthen the tropical fabrics industry, which will also promote the industry of weaving that many IPs are engaged in; and the Department of Education (DepEd) has created the Indigenous Peoples Education Office (IPsEO), which will be responsible for the planning, implementation, coordination and monitoring of the agency’s activities and programs on IP education.

Legarda herself has a number of projects that seek to empower IPs and preserve Filipino heritage and indigenous culture. She supported the development of cultural villages of the Ata-Talaingod, the Mandayas, the B’laan, and the Bagobo Tagabawas and various activities of their Schools of Living Traditions, which teach the young generation the traditional arts, crafts, music and practices of the village.

In 2011, the Senator organized Regional and National IP Summits where leaders of IP groups were able to voice out their concerns, particularly on the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

Meanwhile, in collaboration with the National Museum, Legarda initiated projects such as the  Hibla ng Lahing Filipino, the first permanent textile galleries in the country; the Baybayin gallery, which will showcase the ancient and traditional scripts of the Philippines and is expected to be launched within the year; and the Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge, which aims to enrich the citizens’ knowledge on tropical fabrics and the culture of weaving, and explore the local technology, adaptation and innovations to perform and renew weaving customs.

“Our IPs are the epitome of the tradition, the skill and the creativity of the great Filipino mind. And as the nation moves forward and pursues a path of progress, we should always include in public discourse the unique situation and needs of our IPs. We must ensure that they are afforded social services and are empowered to be vital and productive members of our nation,” Legarda concluded.


MANILA, August 9, 2012-Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, who earlier had called for a "price hike holiday" in light of the massive flooding and calamity in Metro Manila and parts of Luzon, now slams those involved in "jacking up" the prices of vegetables and other food products and basic commodities amid a government-imposed price control.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo on Tuesday said that "price control" on basic commodities takes effect “as soon as a State of Calamity is declared.” Domingo added, "Profiteering and valuation of the price tag are punishable under the law."

Areas now under a state of calamity at the height of monsoon rains and flooding include many cities in Metro Manila, Bataan, Pampanga, Zambales, Bulacan, Laguna, and even parts of Palawan. Information obtained from some government and private sector sources, however, point to price hikes in vegetables, sardines, instant noodles, and water, and emergency items such as batteries and candles.

"Ni hindi pa nga nakakabangon ang taumbayan mula sa grabeng pagbaha, ito na naman at may dagdag na naman tayong pasanin dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin. Para yatang walang kaluluwa itong mga sakim at ganid na negosyanteng mga ito," Pangilinan says. He laments how some parties are taking advantage of the calamity to turn a higher profit.

"Ang kita, kaya namang bawiin e, pero ang pahirapan ang kapwa-tao kapag lubog na nga ito sa hirap--ayan, walang makakabawi diyan," the lawmaker points out.

He adds, "Ang tawag sa mga ganyan: hindi maka-Pilipino. Lubog na nga ang bayan, tinatalo pa tayo sa presyo. At hindi lang ang mga mamimili ang niloloko nila, pero pati na rin ang mga magsasaka. Binabarat nila ang mga magsasaka na walang mapaglagyan ng mag pananim, tapos ibebenta nila nang mahal. Sila lang ang masaya sa sitwasyong ganito." 

Pangilinan encourages those with information against profiteering groups to bring them out into the open and expose traders and other entities out to take advantage of the public during this critical time. He also encourages consumers and retail outlets to source their fresh produce directly from farmers and farming cooperatives, whenever possible, to avoid being duped by profiteering middlemen. 

"Sa ganitong paraan, hindi nabibiktima ang mga tao ng mga negosyanteng mapanamantala. Dahil kapag ganito nang ganito ang sitwasyon, tuluyan nang malulugi ang mga magsasaka at hindi na makapagtatanim. Saan tayo kukuha ng ating pagkain pag nagkataon?" 

Lessons and Hope for Change from Senator Loren Legarda

MANILA, August 9, 2012-“Soon the heavy rains will cease and the floods will subside. The victims will have to rebuild their lives from the tragedy and devastation. This flood is worse than Ondoy. I hope serious government and private sector efforts to build back better the affected communities would start immediately. We must learn the lessons of Ondoy which this recent widespread flooding brings to fore once again. 

“One lesson is clear: We must realize that heavy and excessive rainfall is part of the ‘new norm.’ We must implement immediately our new laws that promote disaster and climate risk reduction. We must endeavor to prevent or reduce flood disaster. As the old adage goes, prevention is always better than cure.

“The nation’s capital needs a comprehensive recovery and rehabilitation plan that will reduce people’s vulnerability and increase the resilience of all sectors to floods. Such plan should be developed and implemented together with key stakeholders and must not be abandoned like the recovery and rehabilitation efforts following Ondoy. 

“More importantly, we must assess our respective work in reducing flood risk, if we are really making any headway amid the ‘new norm’ we experience in this era of climate change.  Are we working on preventing and mitigating the floods or merely responding to their onslaught? Pursuant to our new laws, we must put greater emphasis and invest more (70-30) on disaster prevention and mitigation and risk reduction measures (which bring cost benefit returns as much as: $1 invested in prevention yields $7-14 saved in response cost according to United Nations and World Bank studies) over disaster response (which is costly and unsustainable). This is the new paradigm shift. However, it seems the shift still has to take place. And our wish for local governments & communities to know the risk and protect lives and property way before any natural hazard strikes remains a goal.

“Are LGUs aware of communities at risk of landslide? How many families have been relocated to safer areas?

“Have Metro Manila LGUs dredged or cleaned up regularly their esteros and strictly prohibited and monitored garbage dumping in them? 

“What is MMDA doing with the missing esteros and those with structures on them? 

“What improvement in the protocol for dam water releases is required in view of the recent widespread flooding?

“Let’s aim at preventing natural hazards (typhoon, strong wind, heavy rains, storm surges, quake, etc.)  from becoming disaster situations through effective risk reduction and management. While disaster response preparedness is important, it is never enough for saving lives and reducing socio-economic losses substantially. This action is last of five priorities set by the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) for disaster risk reduction (DRR).

“The Philippines is reputed as model for implementing the first HFA priority which is policy legislation and governance for DRR. Let’s implement well our laws and deliver the benefits the Filipino people long deserve. Strong political will at national and local levels can help bring about the big change we want to see.”


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