Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Environmental Watchdogs Hold Christmas Party

SAN LUIS, Aurora-The Noble Blue Falcons International Inc. (NBFI) environmental watchdogs and its allied forces from the media, government sectors and other non-government organizations held Christmas Party at San Luis Central Elementary School Covered Court Yesterday night with the theme: “Ang Noble Blue Falcons, Ang Climate Change at ang Pasko sa Paningin ng mga Bata.”

NBFI National Chairman and Father of Environmental Mountaineering in the Philippines, Professor Joseph B. Usita stated in the program that the NBFI core values will continue to work for a healthy environment, peace and unity.

“NBFI protects and promotes the Environment, Peace and Unity through acts of volunteerism and camaraderie that prioritizes and respects the NBFI Code of Honor-Righteousness and Meaningful life,” he furthered.

“We are truly committed to work towards a sustainable society with integrity and in unity in protecting the environment and in harmony with nature,” Usita said in an interview pointing out its mission is based and dedicated to environmental conservation, just and sustainable peace and membership unity through eco-tourism, rule of law and economic people's empowerment.

He also said that the group took the lead in environmental protection, peace advocacy and membership unity-for the world.

“Our NBFI members do not climb just for passion but also to patrol and to protect our mountains since it was founded in 1996 at the peak of Mt. Falcon and from thereon, we became popular not only for conquering heights but most of all for patrolling the mountains against forest destroyers,” Usita added.

He said that the NBFI members will bring the spirit of service not only to the mountains but also to our less fortunate brothers.

“In so doing, we are conquering heights not only for our own glories but for reasons higher than ourselves,” he furthered.

He said that the NBFI will continue to advocate environmental awareness, protection and conservation; to promote Aurora Province as a premiere destination for eco-tourism hub; to encourage people to take mountaineering both as a sport and a hobby; to instill the spirit of camaraderie among the participants; to offer opportunity for people to mediate and to commune with nature; to train the participants as skilled environmentalists; to comply with all local and international conventions in relation to the environment; to learn the community attitudes, cultural values, local customs, and beliefs; to familiarize with different mountains in the country; and, to introduce mountaineering for a cause where mountaineers plant trees ( Seedlings) as they scale the mountain.

“Mountaineering is not only about conquering heights or breaking personal records-it is about motivating people, rich or poor to the mountains for them to both enjoy and protect it. I would rather climb a single mountain with a multitude of transformed environmental mountaineers with me rather than scale a hundred peaks alone and for my own glory for I learned in my life, that the hardest things to conquer are not the highest mountains but the hearts of men,” he furthered.

According to SP Member Cesar Pimentel, PSI Ferdinand B. Usita, NBFI Peace Crusaders and Patrol Operation Aurora Chapter and Christopher B. Usita, Chairman NBFI Aurora Chapter, the program and its goals (NBFI) should be disseminated to the youth and future generations for their active involvement.

San Luis SB Member Corazon Teh in her inspirational message expressed her sincerest thanks to the NBFI because the group also initiated several medical missions in the province concerning the health and welfare of the people of Aurora where she was invited to help and give care as a Dentist.

“NBFI is not only for the forest protection but also for the health of Aurora,” she added.

The party was highlighted in the presence of Christopher B. Usita, Chairman of NBFI Aurora Chapter, San Luis, Brgy. 1, Brgy. Captain Divina S. Gomez, Police Senior Inspector Ferdinand B. Usita, Bagong Aurora Website ng Bayan News Team, Ferdinand Pascual, RTV Baler, 56th Infantry “Tatag” Battalion, Philippine Army, Dr. Corazon Teh-San Luis Councilor, Aurora PNP, Central Luzon Media Association and other environmentalist groups and members of NBFI. (Jason de Asis)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ex-Ecija top cop a dark horse to replace Purisima -- sources

CABANATUAN CITY - A former provincial director of the Philippine National Police is also in the running as the possible successor of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima once the latter retires next year, highly placed sources said  yesterday.

          Police Director Ricardo Cornejo-Marquez, a member of the Philippine Military Academy's Class 1982, is a strong contender - a dark horse - to become the next PNP Chief.

          The source, who has strong connections at the Department of the Interior and Local Governments and the National Police commission, said that the 1982 batch has the inside track in the choice of the next PNP Chief.

          Marquez is currently with the PNP Directorate for Operations, considered as the busiest police unit at Camp Crame.  He is leading security preparations for the scheduled visit of Pope Francis this month and the forthcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit later this year.   

          Another strong contender is Criminal Investigation Group Chief, Director Benjamin Magalong, a "mistah"of Marquez, the source, who sought anonymity, said.

          Acting PNP Chief,  Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina is set to retire on July 19 this year, chief of the PNP's directorial staff and on February 1 of Deputy Director General Alexander Monteagudo, chief of the PNP's directorate for human resource and doctrine development.

          Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo, chief of the PNP's directorial staff, is set to retire on March 2 next year.        

          "Right now, he (Marquez) is in the mix as a possible next PNP Chief. From a practical standpoint, if you are going to choose, you are going to pick out those born in 1960 so you will no longer have to choose another one after just a few months," added the source.

          Marquez was born on August 28,1960, a few months senior of Magalong  who was born December 15 of the same year. He served as provincial director in 2010. He was largely credited with the neutralization of criminal syndicates in the province during his stint .

          The province has produced at least two provincial directors who later went on to become PNP     chief, namely former general now Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., and former Philippine Retirement Authority chief Edgar Aglipay.

          Former PNP Chief, Oscar Calderon hails from the province but he never served as provincial director, but as regional director in Central Luzon.

          Under Republic Act 6975, any police official with star rank can be appointed PNP chief, depending on the prerogative of the President. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Legarda Invites Filipinos to Traditional Lao Weaving Lecture and Demo

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda invited Filipinos to visit the Hibla ng Lahing Filipinogallery at the National Museum in Manila for a lecture and weaving demonstration on traditional Lao weaving on January 8 and 9, 2015.

Legarda said that Madame Keobounma Phetmalayvanh, Director-General of the Lao National Museum, will give a lecture on January 8, 10:00-11:30 am, while Madame Keomoungkhoun Chansamone and Madame Nanthavongdouangsy Kongthong will demonstrate traditional Lao weaving on January 8 and 9, from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.

“After witnessing various weaving traditions in our country, we also look into the weaving practices and remarkable artistry of our neighbors in Southeast Asia. Lao is known for the outstanding intricacy and splendor of its handloom textiles. We are glad that they will be sharing with us their weaving traditions,” said Legarda, patron ofHibla, the country’s first permanent textile gallery.

According to the National Museum, Laotian textile products are made using a variety of techniques, including ikat (resist dye process), chok (discontinuous supplementary weft), khit (continuous supplementary weft), yiab ko (tapestry weft) and ta muk(continuous supplementary warp). They are also famous for their natural dyes made of indigo, saffron, lac and terra cotta.

“I invite Filipinos to attend the lecture and weaving demo by our Laotian neighbors so we can also appreciate their artistry and craft,” said Legarda.

The event is part of the Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge, which Legarda, in partnership with the National Museum, initiated since 2012 to perpetuate weaving and indigenous knowledge.

Previous demonstrators include the Ifugao weavers from Kiangan; the Kalinga weavers from Mabilong Weaving Center of Buscalan; weavers from Samoki, Mountain Province;sinamay weavers from Arevalo, Iloilo; the Panay Bukidnons who showed their panubokembroidery; patadyong weavers from the Bagtason Loom Weavers Association in Bugasong, Antique; weavers from the Yakan Village in Zamboanga City; Mandaya weavers from Caraga, Davao Oriental; T’boli weavers from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato; and Tausug weavers from Lagasan, Parang, Sulu.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

City within a city’ to rise in once laid-back Ecija capital

PALAYAN CITY – This once laid-back provincial capital is looming as Nueva Ecija’s latest growth area with the unveiling of a massive development plan that would see the building of a new city within the city.

          The miniature new city concept is encapsulated in the estimated P2-billion government center cum business hub, dubbed Palayan City Business Hub (PCBH)  which construction is set to start anytime this month and which will be completed in two years.     

Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas said that the growth area involves the 3.4-hectare site in Barangay Singalat where not only a one-stop shop government center is envisioned to rise but also multiple buildings, making the area a legitimate growth area similar to the UP Techno Hub.

“Essentially, this is similar to the UP Techno Hub,” said Cuevas, whose city government donated the land to the provincial government for the PCBH.

The project, considered the single biggest project by the provincial government under the administration of Gov. Aurelio Umali, is adjacent to several structures already in place such as the provincial Capitol and City Hall, the newly completed onion cold storage plant, the provincial convention center, the Eduardo L. Joson Memorial College and dormitory, a hotel, emergency hospital, police station, state university and government offices.    

Under the plan, which will be undertaken by the Alloy MTD, the Malaysian conglomerate which is a known infrastructure giant in a joint venture agreement with the provincial government,  four multi-story buildings with a total area of 37,500 square meters will be set up, two of which are world-class business process outsourcing (BPO) buildings with a total seating capacity of 2,500.

Both structures will be equipped with high speed Internet connectivity, a major requirement by call center companies.

Cuevas said a three-story, 75-room hotel is integrated in the plan, considered the first major commercial establishment in the city.   

At the heart of the project is the government center which will be occupied by national offices that are moving from Cabanatuan to Palayan City, part of efforts to consolidate all services, both national and local, in one location, to provide better service to the people.

Cuevas said apart from high-speed Internet connection, the project will be comparable to buildings in Metro Manila with state-of-the-art air-conditioning facilities and mechanical systems.

As a new city within a city, the government center cum trade hub will house a 7,500-square meter central plaza to serve as main activity center with a substation connected to the Luzon grid, ensuring stable and sufficient power.

The provincial government has secured a direct connection approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Additionally, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-powered standby generators will be installed as base load support for the power requirements of the four multi-story buildings.

Cuevas said with the project, the best is about to come in the city where up to 13,000 jobs will be generated, of which 10,000 alone will involve call center agents.

Alloy MTD, which operates in 13 countries including the Us and China, has been credited with building world-class government centers patterned after Putrajaya, a planned city and federal administrative center 25 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur.

Made up of a network of open spaces and wide boulevards, Putrajaya was constructed in 1995 as the biggest project in Malaysia and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia at a cost of $8.1 billion.

          It also bankrolled the construction of the P3.9-billion, 36-kilometer South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the P2.5-billion Calabarzon Regional Government Center (CRGC), dubbed the “Complete City.” It is targeting to construct P10 billion worth of government centers  in the country through Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the CRGC serving as template. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Witness identifies suspect in broad daylight killing of Ecija town accountant

CABIAO, Nueva Ecija – Police have claimed a breakthrough in the investigation of the cold-blooded killing of this town’s municipal accountant after a witness has come out in the open and described one of the gunmen behind the December 18 gun attack.

          Senior Superintendent Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, said the witness has already given his testimony regarding the killing of late municipal accountant Noel Gamboa, a nephew of Mayor Gloria Crespo-Congco.

          Nieves said the witness also gave a detailed facial description of one of the suspects to Chief Inspector Eric Garcia of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory based in Camp Olivas, Pampanga.

          Gamboa, 53, of Barangay San Roque here, was gunned down the morning of December 18 in the town proper by the suspect who was riding in tandem with another companion aboard a motorcycle.

          Crespo-Congco, who appointed Gamboa to his post some seven years ago, said there have been reports the killing was work-related. “But even if there is conflict, it would not be enough reason to justify his killing,” she said.

          Chief Inspector Joseph Sta. Cruz, town police chief, said that while the witness also gave a detailed description of the assailant, they are not at liberty to disclose it because that was the witness’ request.

          “The witness fears for his life and so we have to protect him,” he said.

          Sta. Cruz said he was convinced the attack was work-related considering the sensitivity of Gamboa’s post. He added that three mobile phones of Gamboa and a CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) footage in the murder scene could be the key to the final solution of the case.

         He said the victim’s family agreed to turn over the gadgets which will be subjected to digital forensic investigation by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Camp Crame to detect possible threats.

         “The good thing about Gamboa’s mobile phones were that they were sophisticated enough that we could track down text messages from the date of purchase of his gadgets up to the time he was killed,” he said.

         He said that the CCTV blurred images, it will be brought to a digital expert for further examination. – Manny Galvez 

Friday, December 26, 2014

YEAR-ENDER ‘Purisima-geddon,’ Mercado exposes, HUC snafu, booming Palayan mark Nueva Ecija in 2014

CABANATUAN CITY – Suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima’s several allegedly unexplained properties, former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado’s Senate exposes on Vice President Jejomar Binay’s alleged ill-gotten wealth, the repeated scheduling and eventual cancellation of the plebiscite on the conversion of this city into a Highly Urbanized City (HUC), the gradual emergence of Palayan City as a growth center, political posturings among others were among the issues that hogged the limelight in Nueva Ecija in 2014.

          For at least two months, Purisima’s supposed mansion in San Leonardo town, a poultry farm in this city and another property in Atate, Palayan became hot topic after he was tagged for a lifestyle check.

          Finally appearing in the Senate sometime in September, Purisima got an intense grilling by suspicious senators who questioned the construction of a P11-million “White House” in Camp Crame, the huge discount he got in buying a luxury vehicle among others.

          He tried to fight his critics and adverse public opinion in a typical Purisima-geddon and even questioned an Ombudsman order preventing suspending him and several officials in connection with a shady firearms deal to no avail.  

          Later, he invited media to visit his supposed mansion in Barangay Magpapalayok, San Leonardo to show it was not a mansion and just an ordinary house but some of the mediamen were not exactly convinced. It was just an ordinary house, but only by his standard since he was believed to be flaunting a lavish lifestyle.

          Mercado, who lives and owns a resort in Barangay Cabu this city, appeared in the Senate and exposed Binay’s supposed properties and the overpriced annex building in Makati City Hall. The star witness was later charged with plunder himself for his own alleged involvement in the Makati scam and for himself owning several properties such as cockfighting arena and choiced land in Palawan, this city and other areas.

          The HUC issue, which has polarized the alliance between Gov. Aurelio Umali and Cabanatuan Mayor Jay Vergara, appeared to take off when the Comelec set the plebiscite to January 25 which the Supreme Court stopped. It was reset to September then to November 8 but Comelec cancelled it due to funding problems. The city government will have to raise P100 million for the plebiscite to be held which will involve all registered voters of Nueva Ecija not just Cabanatuan based on the ruling of the Supreme Court.         

While Cabanatuan is considered the province’s trade mecca, its neighboring Palayan City – the province’s provincial capital – made a lot of noise in 2014, the loudest of which was the “Lingap sa Mamamayan” event of the Iglesia Ni Cristo sect.

On February 20, four million INC devotees trooped to Barangay Maligaya in this provincial capital for the launch of its two-day event involving dental health check,  blood pressure (BP) readings, and blood glucose level (BGL) tests.

The Maligaya event came on the heels of the INC’s Worldwide Walk which set a new record for the largest charity walk in 24 hours (multiple venue), drawing 519,521 participants in 13 time zones, 54 countries in 24 hours. This broke the previous record set by Canada involving 231,635 participants who walked for a minimum of one kilometer at 1,011 different locations around Canada on October 2, 2007.

Saturday's event also surpassed the record for the largest charity walk in a single venue with 175,000 participants beating the record set in Singapore in May 2000 with more than 77,000 individuals.The walk for a cause of INC was staged in 135 sites across the globe in the USA, in Europe, in Australia/New Zealand and in Asia including the Philippines.

In December, Umali led the ground-breaking for the construction of an estimated P1.5-billion government center cum trade hub in Barangay Atate which could generate up to 13,000 jobs.

          For sheer magnitude, it was the biggest, single project of the Umali administration which was pursued with some help from the city government which donated the lot for the mega-project.

          The provincial government also spearheaded a public hearing on the P50.3-billion new Bilibid prisons project in Genh. Tinio, Nueva ecija, projected to be  finished in 2018.

          The city government, with neophyte Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas as its helm, has been driving on the fast lane to development, with City Hall getting a much-needed face-lift, outpacing even Makati, with its employees now drawing ther salaries through ATM.

For the first time in so many years, barangay roads which were found wanting in infrastructure development were paved while a trade depot was also launched.

In April, Alfredo Olivares Jr. of Barangay Malate became the toast of the baseball world, qualifying in a try-out to play in a semi-professional league in Japan.  

In the political front, the governor’s lawmaker-wife Czarina has jumped the gun on her prospective rival for the Capitol, going on a charm offensive throughout the province, ahead of former congressman Rodolfo Antonino who was also slapped with a case before the Ombudsman.

Nine of the Josons’ mayors have voiced support to Congresswoman Umali, boosting her stock.

Talks swirled that Vergara’s wife Rosanna is eyeing the governorship or Congress to challenge the Umalis.

The oldest local chief executive of the province, Nampicuan Mayor Ubaldino Lacurom resigned in June for health reasons, paving the way for the succession of his daughter Lourdes.

In Aliaga, site of the famous Taong Putik which drew 7,000 mud people in April, Reynaldo Ordanes was briefly installed mayor after winning an election protest against incumbent Mayor Elizabeth Vargas but the latter managed to win a TRO.

Vargas has filed a disbarment suit against a judge in Cabanatuan for allegedly invoking an old law in proclaiming Ordanes the winner while the latter has filed a similar case against Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes for allegedly issuing a favorable ruling to Vargasd, his former client.

As early as September, the Comelec has been sending alarm signals on the possible massive disenfranchisement of voters, with artound 200,000 in peril of being not able to vote due to lack of biometrics registration even as 5,000 dead voters still in the voters’ list in Cabanatuan.    

Crimes – as well as loose firearms (about 5,000 according to the provincial director) were aplenty in the province, with San Jose city emerging as crime capital based on crime stats up to early September.

In February, a councilor survived a grenade attack, touching off a long trail that also saw the killing in August of jail warden Enrico Campos by his assailant Renato Galang who himself killed by lawmen a month later.  A week before Christmas, the municipal accountant of Cabiao was gunned down by a motorcycle-riding gun man.

This even amid frantic efforts of Umali to stem the tide, as he was named by President Aquino in May as chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council. In March, he and Purisima led the ground-breaking of an elegant P20-million hostel for the provincial police force. 

In April, two UP students were arrested by the Army and police for being suspected as NPA rebels and detained in San Jose amid denials by their families. – Manny Galvez

Thursday, December 25, 2014

TSU College of Computer Studies, PIA hold Christmas outreach, people’s forum

TARLAC CITY-Around 300 residents of barangay Bora in the capital city benefitted from the Christmas outreach cum people’s forum activity of the College of Computer Studies (CCS) of Tarlac State University (TSU) and Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
In the outreach, parents received Noche Buena items while their children got school supplies, which were courtesy of the provincial government.
Families likewise competed for prizes in the parlor games.
“Christmas is not just about receiving gifts. Beyond that, this season is about giving what we can and sharing what we have,” TSU-CCS Associate Dean Edjie Delos Reyes said.
“During the people’s forum, we had informed the parents who are mostly beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the various programs of the national government on health, education, agriculture, and livelihood. We shall relay some of the issues they had raised to concerned government agencies,” PIA Tarlac Provincial Manager Lorie Gene Cruz said. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

San Fernando, Victoria town top DILG Environmental Compliance Audit in Central Luzon

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-The City of San Fernando in Pampanga and Victoria town in Tarlac topped this year’s Environmental Compliance Audit (ECA) of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Central Luzon.
Mayor Edwin Santiago and Mayor Candido Guiam III personally received the accolade for their city and town, respectively from DILG Regional Director Florida Dijan during the awarding ceremony Thursday held in line with the celebration of Manila Bay Day 2014.
The recognition goes with a P200,000 cash prize each for both first placers.
“ECA aims to assess the compliance of local government units within the Manila Bay area to basic environmental laws particularly Republic Act 9003 otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, ensure that environmental issues and concerns are brought to the attention of local and national leaders, and see to it that public officers that are tasked to implement environmental laws actually do their duties and sustain its implementation,” Dijan explained.
San Fernando was cited for its distribution of 150 pedal-powered garbage collection carts in all 35 barangays; for having more than 50 functional materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in villages, subdivisions, schools, and private establishments; and passage of an ordinance that bans the use of plastics every Friday among others.
Moreover, Victoria was likewise commended for having functional MRFs and its regular multi-sectoral cleanup drives in its creeks and other waterways.
“Both San Fernando and Victoria shall be Central Luzon’s bets to the tri-regional Manila Bay area contest were they compete with winners from National Capital Region and CALABARZON,” Dijan added.
Balanga in Bataan placed second and Muñoz in Nueva Ecija ended third in the city category while Plaridel in Bulacan landed second and La Paz in Tarlac ranked third in the municipal category. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

PIA joins TCA’s 69th founding anniversary celeb via ‘Eco-Power Up’

CAMILING, Tarlac-Philippine Information Agency (PIA) joined Tarlac College of Agriculture (TCA) in celebrating its 69th founding anniversary through the conduct of the first “Eco-Power Up: Tarlac Youth Leaders’ Day.”
“Eco-Power Up seeks to provide a platform for the display of artistry of students of TCA and at the same time tap them as partners to the green crusade by informing them of the ill-effects of the changing climate in the hope of inspiring them to do their share to mitigate and find ways to adapt to it,” PIA Regional Director William Beltran said.
It consisted of a street dancing competition dubbed as “Indakan sa Kalye” which featured the various festivals of the province’s Ilokano-speaking towns, Search for Festival Queen, lantern parade, and climate change adaptation and mitigation and nation building youth forum.
The Institute of Engineering placed first in the street dancing competition with a tribute to the Buyboy Festival of San Clemente while the Institute of Education ended second with an entry inspired by the Ylang Ylang Festival of Anao and Institute of Veterinary Medicine landed third with its Paniqui Singkamas Festival entry.
Moreover, Institute of Engineering’s muse was crowned Festival Queen while the Men’s Dormitory topped the lantern parade.
Other partners in the activity include SM City Tarlac, Globe Telecom, and Pilipinas Natin. (Lorie Gene C. Cruz)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Legarda to LGUs: Create More Jobs Thru Solid Waste Law

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda said that local government units (LGUs) could create more jobs through the implementation of Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law.

Legarda, principal author and sponsor of the law, made the statement during the recent hearing of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act which looked into the performance of relevant national agencies and LGUs with respect to RA 9003.

“By implementing the solid waste management law, San Fernando City in Pampanga was able to generate 200 green jobs, including those employed to manage the materials recovery facilities (MRFs),” she stressed.

According to Mother Earth Foundation, all of San Fernando City’s 35 barangays have their own MRFs, where waste materials are sorted for composting and recycling and the residual waste will be brought to sanitary landfills.

Aside from generating jobs, the city was able to save millions. The LGU used to spend 70 million pesos for solid waste dumped in a sanitary landfill in Tarlac, but now they only spend P7 million for bringing their mostly residual waste to the same landfill.

Moreover, waste diversion rate is at 55%, which means that instead of being brought to landfills, this much of waste is now either recycled or composted.

“Imagine if all LGUs implemented the law, it would be a cleaner and greener Philippines, more green jobs would be generated, and there would be decrease in incidence of environmental diseases. I hope our leaders will have the political will to implement the law at full speed,” said Legarda.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

NIA: Damage to irrigation facilities costs Php473.7M

NIA Central Office, Quezon City – As of the latest consolidated reports[1] on the damages to irrigation facilities caused by Typhoon Ruby, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) reported a total of Php473,726,693.30 cost for the repair of damaged National Irrigation Systems (NIS) and Communal Irrigation Systems (CIS) in four regions including Regions 4A, 4B, 5, and 8. The agency also reported crop damages amounting to Php139,198,237.00[2] covering an area of 9,378[3] hectares.

Eastern Visayas, the region also devastated last year by Super Typhoon Yolanda, reported the highest damage cost in its irrigation facilities. The region, in which Ruby first made landfall, reported a cost of Php162,048,500.00 for damaged CIS facilities and Php61,030,000.00 for NIS for a total of Php223,078,500.00 for the repair of both NIS and CIS facilities. Region 8 also reported that 1,700 hectares of area was affected by the typhoon.

Bicol Region, on the other hand, reported the second highest damage cost amounting to  Php183,902,198.00 for the repair of damaged NIS (Php29,421,198.00) and CIS (Php154,481,000.00) structures.  The regional office also noted that affected area reached 6,178 hectares with crop damages amounting to Php107,357,237.00.

For CALABARZON, the total cost for repair of damaged irrigation facilities amounted to Php54,496,000.27 broken down to: Php22,306,000.27 for CIS and Php32,190,000.00 for NIS. The region also reported that crop damages amounted to Php31,841,000.00.

MIMAROPA, or Region 4B, reported the least cost for typhoon damages amounting to Php12,250,000.00 solely for damaged NIS facilities in Occidental Mindoro covering an area of 1,500 hectares affecting 950 farmers.

Typhoon Ruby is one of the strongest storm systems that entered the country this year. It intensified into a Category 5 typhoon on December 4 with a maximum sustained winds of 285 kph. It made its first landfall on Dolores, Eastern Samar on December 6 weakening as a Category 3 typhoon and continued to wane as it slowly traversed Visayas and Southern Luzon making landfalls on Cataingan, Masbate;  Torrijos, Marinduque; and finally on Laiya, Batangas on December 8 before it eventually exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Legarda on Heritage Mapping: It’s Food for the Soul Feeding the Stomach

MANILA-In a bid to further promote Philippine heritage preservation, Senator Loren Legarda has organized a lecture on heritage mapping and a tour of the HiblaBaybayin andBiodiversity exhibitions at the National Museum.

“My gift for you this Christmas is a gift for the soul. We can have Christmas parties here and there every year, but this year I wanted it special through this heritage lecture because it is important that we understand who we are and where we came from,” said Legarda in opening the lecture of Associate Professor Eric Babar Zerrudo titled,“Heritage, Makakain Ba ‘Yan?”

Legarda said that the lecture, which she organized for members of the Senate media, her staff and friends, highlights the importance of heritage and how it can actually lead to meaningful progress. Leading the attendees were National Artist F. Sionil Jose, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairperson Felipe De Leon Jr., Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Mundita Lim, and Habi: The Philippine Textile Council members led by its Chairperson Maribel Ongpin.

“It operationalizes, simplifies and communicates in simple, clear terms our advocacy on promoting the sustainable use of our finite resources, and the preservation and promotion of our indigenous arts and culture, and our culture as a whole,” she stressed.

During the lecture, Prof. Zerrudo emphasized the need for heritage mapping, stressing that heritage should be at the core of development. It starts with awareness, then appreciation, protection and finally, utilization.

“You cannot utilize something you do not protect; you cannot protect what you do not appreciate; you cannot appreciate what you are not aware of,” Zerrudo stressed.

He presented the case study of Vigan, a well-known heritage city, which is now one of the New7Wonders Cities aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heritage is at the core of development in Vigan and is in fact mainstreamed in its education curriculum.

Legarda, for her part, said that she has filed Senate Bill No. 2501 to mandate all local government units (LGUs) to conduct cultural mapping in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Department of Tourism (DOT).

The bill also requires the country’s key educational agencies—DepEd, CHED and TESDA—to collaborate and work with NCCA in implementing plans and programs that integrate and mainstream Philippine arts and culture, including Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs), in the basic, tertiary and technical-vocational education system.

Moreover, Legarda said that her Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is fast tracking the approval of the proposed Protected Areas Declaration Act.

There are 113 areas in the country declared through Presidential proclamations as protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act. However, only 13 have proceeded to be legislated as such. Legislation for the remaining 100 protected areas must be approved to ensure improved conservation programs and appropriate funding

“Our natural resources are very important part of our heritage and should be included in heritage mapping as well,” she stressed.

“The fundamental goal of heritage mapping is to inform, educate and help the nation realize its rich heritage, allowing for reflection of what it stands to lose as a result of its collective apathy and what it could gain if it strives to protect and promote it,” Legarda concluded.


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