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Butuan City News March 2012

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Butuan cops doubt P8-m robbery claim


BUTUAN City--Four gold buyers have claimed that they lost P8 million in cash to a group of robbers in Barangay Taguibo here on Wednesday afternoon. The alleged robbery took place at a time when business people and civil society groups have called for a revamp of the Butuan City Police Office due to a widely perceived peace and order breakdown here. A series of robberies took place in the city recently. But local police authorities said they were baffled, and doubt the gold buyers' claim that they were robbed.\

Senior Supt. Pedro Obaldo Jr., Butuan police chief, ordered Chief Insp. Gaudioso Cajutol to look into the robbery report, saying he noted inconsistencies in the statements given by the alleged victims. "We need to find out the truth. We are looking into different scenarios and are currently looking into other leads," said Obaldo. Obaldo said he could not understand why the group with cash supposedly amounting to P8 million would go to a place like Taguibo with a man they did not know very well. He said he noted that the alleged victims went to Taguibo without security.

Chief Insp. Cajutol, chief of the Butuan police's Station 4, identified the alleged victims as Avelino Eviota Palima, 50; Lourdes Cobreros For taje, 50; Ramil Ligan Vallispin, 32; and Hubert Arellon Valdez, 38. Vallispin, a resident of Meralco Village, Binagonan, Rizal, Metro Manila, claims to be the president of the Pasay-based Along 33 Commercial Trading. Valdez, a resident of Barangay 3, San Nicolas, Ilocos Nor te, is the firm's comptroller. Palima and Fortaje are from Garden Village, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Caraga police director Chief Supt. Reynaldo Rafal has ordered investigators to identify and arrest a cer tain "Roger," who accompanied the alleged victims, and four alleged robbers. Rafal said the alleged robbery, if established, was the biggest reported heist in Caraga so far in recent months. Investigators said the alleged victims were headed to a place in Taguibo in a maroon Isuzu pickup truck with license plates XKV- 208. "Roger," according to the alleged victims, asked that they stop when they reached Purok 6-A, Taguibo.

Police said the alleged victims claimed that four men, armed with caliber .45 pistols, then came from the bushes and announced the robbery. "Roger," based on the alleged victims' claims, told them to hand over the money intended to buy a supposedly authenticated gold bar. It was not clear what happened to the supposedly authenticated gold bar. Police are not buying the victims' stor y. "We are also looking at the possibility that they might be using the police for a coverup... that they are merely making it look like a robbery," Obaldo said.

But Chief Insp. Cajutol said the alleged victims looked and sounded ver y convincing. "They were really serious. We interviewed them separately," Cajutol said. Cajutol however said he noted that mere straw was used in supposedly tying the alleged victims' hands and that they looked like they were in a hurr y to leave the police station. Last week, six establishments, including a LBC courier outlet, were robbed in broad daylight and in full view of bystanders on separate occasions here. Butuan Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. and other city hall of ficials have yet to issue an official statement.

Mindanao joins Earth Hour tomorrow

By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines ­- Key cities in Mindanao are set to participate in the “Earth Hour 2012” tomorrow (March 31). The different cities in the country’s second largest island also prepared several activities during the one hour simultaneous power switch-off. Organizers including local government units in the island’s key cities will also send thousands of biodegradable lanterns to the sky in time for the light switch off from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on March 31, this year. Officials and residents in the key cities of Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Davao, General Santos and Surigao are set to make history in Mindanao by staging various activities including flying big number of biodegradable lanterns to the sky during the one hour switching off to their respective homes, business establishments and industrial plants. It is also during this simultaneous event that households and even big establishments will be turning off non-essential lights for an hour. Officials in Cagayan de Oro City led by Mayor Vicente Y. Emano are preparing for this big event. Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr. and Surigao City Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas are also spearheading the big event in their respective cities. On the other hand, Dabawenyos led by their respective officials in Southern Mindanao region are also set to send off 10,000 biodegradable lanterns to the sky in time for the light switching off. Davao City is set to be in festive and street party mood during the event at Davao City’s big mall which is chosen by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF) to be the official switch-off site for Mindanao. The Earth Hour celebration in Davao will also highlight the Kadayawan festival. Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz has issued a memorandum to all department heads, office heads and city hall employees directing them to join the Earth Hour 2012 activity, where all the city’s inhabitants are expected to troop in the city’s major thoroughfares for various activities. In Zamboanga City, Mayor Celso Lobregat is also spearheading his constituents in their big activity tomorrow. Lobregat issued Executive Order No. CL 445-2012 supports the Earth Hour activity. The mayor also hopes that there will be other similar endeavors that will be initiated even after the activity to inculcate awareness to the public that it is possible to address global warming. Meanwhile, the 33-strong member of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (AMRECO) led by its president Sergio Dagooc said it’s the prerogative of the respective islands 33-strong electric cooperatives general managers and its respective officers if they will also shut-off their respective power lines during the Earth Hour 2012 celebration. The Philippines has set a record in 2011 as 1,661 cities and municipalities switched off their lights, making the country a three-time Earth Hour champion and official Earth Hour ‘Hero Country.’

DENR tightens anti-illegal logging drive in “hot spots” of Caraga Region

By (Eric Gallego/DENR-13/RER/NLM/PIA-Caraga)

BUTUAN CITY, March 29 (PIA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has strengthened its patrol operation in known “hot spots” of illegal logging activities particularly in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur in Caraga Region to discourage timber smugglers from transporting undocumented cut logs particularly during the Holy Week.

“We are strengthening our guards at the frontlines particularly in areas known to have records of illegal logging activities in the past,” Regional Executive Director Leonardo R. Sibbaluca said.

He said Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday are ”critical times when transporters of illegal logs are considered active based upon experience in the past.”

“There is no doubt that timber poachers can sometimes elude the DENR operatives nevertheless with the support of the people they may not succeed,” Sibbaluca said.

DENR officials visited different forest monitoring checkpoints along the Maharlika Highway and the Agusan River recently and reminded their personnel to be alert and awake about illegal logging transporters in their area.

Sibbaluca also conferred with the Philippine Army Battalion Commanding Officers in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur and also the Philippine National Police officials about service personnel assistance support when the situation warrants.

“We always thank the Philippine Army and the PNP for their all-out support to the campaign of the DENR against illegal logging,” he said.

Last year DENR-13 confiscated 5,250 cubic meters of illegal logs and 383,415 board feet of illegally-cut lumber and flitches. The DENR filed 23 cases with violation of PD 705 at the Environmental Court against illegal loggers and timber poachers in Caraga Region.

Since Executive Order No. 23 took effect on February 1 last year, chainsaws, bulldozers, graders and all other logging tools are now off-limits in natural and residual forests nationwide. Sibbaluca said the EO 23 issued by President Aquino declared a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests with the creation of an anti-illegal logging task force.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje also gave instructions to all DENR regional executive directors to pull out all logging/cutting and hauling equipment from natural and residual forests after 28 days from its imposition.

Sibbaluca said he instructed all CENR officers to pull out any logging/cutting and hauling equipment from all natural and residual forests which remains enforced to ensure that no further timber harvesting shall be done following the imposition of the logging moratorium.

He said the acceptance and processing of new as well as renewal or extension of integrated operation plans, annual work plans or resources-use permits in all natural and residual forest has been also suspended in accordance with the DENR Memorandum No. 52 issued by Secretary Paje. The memorandum limits the processing of application permits to forest tenure holders within their plantation sites only.

PWDs voter registration set in Caraga

By Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY, March 28 (PIA) -- A voter registration for persons with disabilities (PWDs) is scheduled by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Caraga Region.

In an email sent to PIA-Caraga, Rexie Magsano of the Office of Commissioner Rene Sarmiento of the COMELEC said the voter registration of PWDs in Mindanao is scheduled on April 2012.

Magsano said for this month, the registration is focused in the Visayas regions. He added this must be continued in all the five regions in Mindanao.

The official further said a kick-off event will be held at the ground floor of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Building in Davao City on April 18, 2012.

Furthermore, Magsano said same event is scheduled in the regions in Luzon on May 2012, to include the National Capital Region and the Cordillera Administrative Region. Meanwhile, a nationwide PWD voter registration is set on July 2012 to highlight the regional activities.

Prior to the kick-off activity in Davao City, for Caraga Region, the events will be held in this city on the following schedule: April 9 (Brgy. Antongalon), April 10-11 (Brgy. Anticala), and April 12-13 (Brgy. Buhangin).

The registration will continue on April 23 (Brgy. Masao), April 24-25 (Brgy. Lumbocan), April 26-27 (Brgy. Taguibo), and April 30 (Brgy. Ampayon).

The inter-agency and non-government organization Network on Empowering Persons with Disabilities under Pillar 9 of COMSTRAT1116 (Commission on Elections’ Strategy for 2011-2016) proposed the focused voter registration for PWDs on specific regions per month to create awareness on PWDs’ right to suffrage and electoral reforms dealing with the accessibility of election related activities and information.

Aside from voter registration, the inter-agency emphasizes the need to update the records such as accomplishing the supplementary data in the Office of the Election Officers. This event aims to encourage thousands of PWDs to register and for those who are already registered, to update their records at the local COMELEC offices or in selected locations for satellite registrations. (PIA-Caraga)

OPLAN SUMVAC now enforced in Caraga

By (PNA)

RMA/Ben Serrano/utb

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 27 (PNA) - The Police Regional Office-13 has started implementing OPLAN SUMVAC, or Operational Plan for Summer Vacation, to prevent and neutralize criminal activities initiated either by organized armed criminals, terrorist groups or common criminals.

In a press statement, Caraga police regional director Chief Supt. Reynaldo S. Rafal said under OPLAN SUMVAC, all municipal and provincial police offices and other support groups had been directed for lateral coordination to achieve its successful implementation.

Rafal reminded policemen in the field to assist motorists and commuters, especially those who will return to provinces this lenten season while being vigilant 24/7 in protecting innocent civilians against any criminal activities.

“It is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent. The Police Regional Office will not tolerate the venom of criminality to spread within Caraga Region” Rafal said.

In his directives to different police offices in Caraga region, Rafal said OPLAN SUMVAC involved the maximum deployment of mobile and motorcycle patrol units along major thoroughfares to ensure the safety and security of the populace.

He said the operation encompassed deployment of police officers and establishment of Police Assistance Centers on different sea, land and air transport terminals.

PRO 13 has also deployed tourist police in areas where tourists are expected.

“These policemen will aid and assist all tourists in Caraga, to tighten more security measures, it is launched in coordination with other government agencies and non-government organization” Rafal said.

Butuan to host Student Gov’t Leadership Training program on May

By (RER/PIA 13, Caraga)

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 26 (PIA) –- This city will play host to this year’s Philippine Higher Education Student Government Leadership Training Program (PHESGLTP), slated on May 5-7 in one of the local convention centers here.

In a press statement, Asian Network of Youth Volunteers (ANYV) Philippine coordinator and United Nations Youth Association of the Philippines (UNYAP) National Vice President for External Affairs Rex Ybañez said the nationwide gathering of student leaders aims to enlighten student government officers on the various roles and responsibilities in handling student governments.

Ybañez also said the training will serve as a venue to attune the student leaders to the concepts of school development and diplomatic endeavors, train them on various leadership strategies, and to address conflicts in student governance.

The 2012 PHESGLTP will highlight the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Caraga - Iraq Youth Friendship Commitment, an initiative to establish friendship with the Iraqi government through the Iraq Embassy in the Philippines for youth developments.

PHESGLTP is also inviting foreign students through their respective embassies to observe the training for comments, evaluations, and appraisal of training instruments, Ybañez said.

He added that the training creates a country-wide directory of student government for speedy delivery of information on development programs, exchanges, projects and advocacies.

“Once your organization is accredited, it is automatically entered to the registry,” Ybañez added.

Meanwhile, Ybañez said the event builds a Student Government Accreditation System. This is a system of the Institute for Youth Development Affairs of the Philippines that accredits student government organizations in the higher education institutions (HEIs) of the country to establish relationship among them for the promotion of Filipino values, good citizenship, principled leadership, good governance and in the quest for excellent education.

To be accredited, Ybañez added, interested organization must submit two copies of the resolution from the organization duly noted by the advisers/consultants, student affairs director and school president expressing intent to be accredited by the Institute. They must also submit a complete list of officers with their corresponding numbers and addresses, as well as a copy of mission, vision statements and objectives; a copy of the duly ratified Constitution and By-laws or Charter or its equivalent instruments; a copy of this year's Project and Activity Plan; and a copy of the latest Accomplishment Report. “This must be submitted during the said training,” Ybañez said.

This year's theme is "Preparing Student Leaders to Excellence in Service and Commitment" which hopes to prepare student leaders to excellence in service and commitment through various useful instruments on leadership and volunteerism.

Concluding rites of Caraga Women’s Month set in Butuan


BUTUAN CITY, Agusan del Norte, Mar. 25 (PIA) -- In conclusion of the women’s month celebration, the gender committee of Caraga will hold a culmination program on March 30 at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) grounds.

In a press statement, Gender and Development Coordinating Committee (GADCC) chairperson and Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-Caraga Regional Director Atty. Marylin Pintor said the activity is aimed at strengthening camaraderie and network among Gender and Development (GAD) advocates in the region.

Pintor also said the whole day culmination activity will highlight a cheer dance competition to be participated in by GADCC member-agencies and stakeholders. Also, member-stakeholders will showcase their talent in a singing challenge.

“To give more color to the activity, series of Laro ng Lahi or parlor games will also be conducted,” Pintor said.

Meanwhile, the Butuan City Band is also invited to render songs and music that ends the program through a jamming session, it was learned.

It can be recalled that on March 1, all member-stakeholders have participated the opening ceremonies held at the Agusan del Norte Provincial Capitol covered court, where a mini-concert was conducted featuring local talents from the different national line agencies.

Also, releasing of sky lanterns highlighted the program which signified the opening of the month-long celebration. It was learned that around 500 sky lanterns were released by employees of the national line agencies during that activity.

This year’s Women’s Month celebration is anchored on the theme, “Women Weathering Climate Change: Governance and Accountability, Everyone’s Responsibility” which also supports the Philippine Development Plan of President Benigno S. Aquino III, particularly in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation. (RER/PIA13 Caraga)

Caraga Environment Protection Move Starts


BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – Concerned with the adverse effects of global warming, and climate change to the future generation, the members of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources of the House of Representatives converged here for a two-day inquiry that started the other day to preserve and protect the environment.

The committee also started its move to look into the estimated 300,000 small-scale mining operations operating throughout the country if they are religiously implementing the various mining laws, rules, and regulations that are the vital factors in preserving and protecting the environment.

As Congress started its summer recess, the House Committee on Environment also started its congressional inquiry on the 31 mining companies, some of them holders of the government’s 25-year Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) and operating at the various parts of the country, to determine if they honestly dispose their duties and obligations to the government, especially on taxes, responsible mining and environment preservation and protection.

The members of the committee started their two-day initial Congressional Inquiry on Thursday, in aid of legislation, in this city.

The committee chaired by Surigao del Norte 1st District Representative Francisco T. Matugas will also look deeper on what happened to the alleged multi-million peso educational fund intended for highland students, where the program is supposed to be under the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP).

“These are the very important issues that this committee will look into,” said Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Guillermo Romarate Jr.

Butuan City Representative Jose Aquino 11, Surigao del Sur Representative Philip Pichay, Ako Bikol Party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe, and other members of the committee voiced their respective messages and concerns on the environment during “Day One” of their congressional inquiry here Thursday.

The committee also focused into the complaints regarding alleged violations of several big mining companies, such as siltation and other obligations to the local government units (LGUs) in Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte.

The committee will also concentrate on the alleged violation of environmental and health hazard laws, and alleged non-compliance of other obligations to local host communities.

However, top officials of several mining companies denied the allegations hurled against them by some sectors.

The officers of the various mining companies presented voluminous documents to the members of the committee as answers to the complaints hurled against them.

Matugas said the complaints against these firms warranted a congressional inquiry.

“There is a need to dig deeper and investigate comprehensively these alleged reported violations in order to safeguard the interest of the government, protect the environment, ensure economic development in the countryside, and especially all laws must be followed,” stressed Matugas.

Top officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Environment and Management Bureau (EMB), and Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) were present during the two-day Congressional inquiry in the Caraga Region.

Caraga cops seize illegal mining equipment in Butuan village

By (PNA)


BUTUAN CITY — Caraga police operatives and barangay officials confiscated on Wednesday three expensive generator pumps used in illegal small-scale mining activities in Barangay Bilay here. Chief Inspector Gaudioso Cajutol, chief of the Butuan City Police Station 4, and Barangay Bilay Chairperson Crisanta Gado led the confiscation in the mining village of Bilay. Earlier, City Mayor Dr. Ferdinand Amante Jr. and Caraga Police Regional Director Chief Supt. Reynaldo Rafal ordered an all out campaign against environmental violators in the city and Caraga Region. Gado informed the city police and Mayor Amante that despite her many warnings, violators still continue to use “water flushing” or high pressure water spray on mountains to extract minerals in the area. Such method used mostly by small-scale miners in Caraga Region is totally destructive causing massive soil erosion and landslides. This prompted Gado to order apprehensions against violators but they only found the three generators abandoned in the area.

P14.9M worth of illegal logs seized on joint gov't operations

By Noel B. Najarro

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 22 (PIA) -- Joint forces of national armed and environmental authorities confiscated an estimated 1.1 million board feet of logs and fletches, worth about P14.9 million here in Caraga region.

These operations to bust illegal logging activities and environmental laws violations were done together by the Philippine National Police, Department of Natural Resources and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They were also assisted by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.

The seized forest products were then turned over in a ceremony presided by Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary for Peace and Order Rico E. Puno. It was held this morning at Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez, this city.

The ceremonial turn-over of the confiscated forest products was presided over by DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, which was held this morning at Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez, this city.

Puno said that even if the recent disaster brought by tropical storm Sendong was of natural occurrence, it “was aggravated and made worse by human interference to nature.”

According to him, the move was part of the reform measures on environmental protection and law enforcement by the national leadership.

He also said government regulations on the utilization of our natural resources are the first line of defense against “people who raped our forests.”

As part of the same measure, the authorities initiated the forfeiture proceedings of the said confiscated forest products by its anti-illegal logging teams during 159 separate operations in a span of 15-months here in the region.

A total of 85 suspected illegal logging violators were apprehended in these operations, according to Caraga PNP Director CSupt. Reynaldo S. Rafal, while DENR regional officials estimated the confiscated wood products to need some 110 truckloads to haul.

Puno said the wood products that have been forfeited in favor of the government, which will be made into school desks for public schools in Caraga region. It will be used also to build shelters and outposts for the PNP maneuver units in the region. (NCLM/PIA Caraga)

Surigaonons set to join “Earth Hour 2012”

By (MUC/NCLM/PIA-Caraga)

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 21 (PIA) -- City Mayor Ernesto Matugas said other line agencies of the government, business community, all sectors of the society and Surigaonons are set to participate in switching off their respective lights and power supply from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The city Chief Executive further encouraged all Surigaonons to dim their non-essential lights,key monuments, landmarks and building signages on the said time.

This year’s celebration carries the theme, “Uniting People to Protect Planet”.

Matugas is also urging business establishments to hang streamers/posters/tarpaulin as an expression of their support for Earth Hour and display the same in highly visible locations and document their own Earth Hour event to showcase endeavors to celebrate earth hour 2012 around the country.

“We are ready to join this global concern,” said the mayor.

“Earth Hour” is an activity worldwide by World Wide Fun for Nature (WWF) which is the world’s largest conservation organization, operating in over 100 countries through the support of over 5 million people worldwide.

The event aims to help communities adapt to climate change, secure food and water sources, conserve local ecosystems and species, minimize ecological impacts development and promote renewable sources of clean energy.

Caraga Disaster Council final tally: 45 injured, 28 houses damaged in quake

By (PNA)


BUTUAN CITY, March 20 (PNA) -- The Caraga Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) has finally came up with an official tally of injured persons and houses damaged by the March 16, 2012 3:58 p.m. earthquake that hit the provinces of Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands.

The official report dated March 19, 2012 reported a total of 45 persons injured in Surigao City while 28 houses were damaged in Dinagat Islands province by the earthquake which measured 5.9 in Dinagat Islands and 6.0 in Surigao City, according to local PHILVOCS office records based in Surigao City.

Dinagat Islands province which has a total 8 municipalities is about two to three hours motorboat ride from Port of Surigao City

The quake was centered two kilometers (1.2 miles) off Dinagat Islands which was tectonic in origin and with a depth of 16 kilometers.

Around 24 houses were totally damaged in Brgy. Roxas, and four houses partially damaged in Brgy. Imee, Basilisa in Dinagat Islands. Initial damaged assessment to infrastructure amounted to P828,440 in San Jose, Dinagat Islands.

Damaged infrastructures include partially damaged multi-purpose staged and wharf in Basilisa, minor cracked municipal and sangguniang building in Cagdianao and minor cracked gymnasium and elementary school in Libjo.

DTI Caraga hosts BETP’s "Doing Business in Free Trade Areas"

By Ramil J. Leongas

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 19 (PIA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through its Bureau of Export Trade Promotion widens its nationwide information campaign dubbed “Doing Business In Free Trade Areas” (DBFTA) to encourage Micro Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (MSMEs) to trade with countries where the Philippines has already inked a Free Trade Agreement.

The Caraga leg of the caravan held on March 13 at Dottie’s Place, JC Aquino Ave., Butuan City was attended by more than 100 MSMEs from all over the region. In her message, which was delivered by PD Rene L. Negapatan of DTI Surigao del Norte Provincial Office, OIC-Regional Director Lolita I. Dorado told Caraga MSME’s --- “do not limit your market within your respective regions; the world is yours for the taking --- Let's do business in Free Trade Areas”.

In his keynote address, Mr. Jason T. Lao, Director III of the Product Research and Strategy Group directed the participants to the salient points of the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2011-2013…”The global export environment is evolving opportunities for the Philippines (PHL) to grow exports of merchandise and services by forty percent (+40) in the next three years (2011-2013) and double the prior-period average in 2016. By 2016, total Philippine exports will exceed one hundred twenty billion US dollars (US$ 120B). This is achieved by building on the current business for the period 2011-2013 and developing Key Export Sectors that have high potential for growth. In the subsequent three years (2014-2016), growth is attained by implementing an agro-industrial resource-base export development program.”

To achieve the goals set by the PEDP 2011-2013, BETP shall focus on the core market strategies i.e., 1) Maximize benefits of Free Trade Agreements, 2) Target high-growth emerging markets, and 3) Attract the migration of supply chain nodes to the Philippines. As such, the nationwide information campaign on DBFTA that started last year was brought to Caraga. For 2012, Caraga’s export target is pegged at US$35M, tall order as it is, but DTI Caraga is very optimistic to achieve this target.

After a thorough discussion on the overview of the DBFTA as well as the PEDP 2011-2012, as series of lectures were delivered by the different discussants with their corresponding topics as follows: ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) by Ms. Ester Rosario, STIDS, ASEAN Division, BETP; ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Agreement (AANZFTA) by Ms. Rafaelita Castro, Assistant Division Chief, Japan/Austrasia Division, BETP; Japan Free Trade Agreement (AJFTA) by Ms. Norma O. Quilantang, Chief, Japan/Australia Division, BETP; ASEAN-Korea and ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreements (AKFTA/ACFTA) by Ms. Carlota Claveron, BIS; ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA) by Ms. Ester Rosario, STIDS, ASEAN Division; and Getting the Certificate of Origin For your Product by Ms. Rosario Acosta of the Bureau of Customs.

The DBFTA nationwide campaign will not be possible without the participation of the local Chamber of Commerce & Industry. In his message, Mr. Jospeh Omar O. Andaya, President of Butuan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (BCCIFI) expressed optimism on the benefits DBFTA will bring to the country’s economy, however, he also threw caution in the air considering the possible threats DBFTA might cause the country’s prime exports such as sugar, coconut oil, and other agricultural products.

To give the participants a deeper understanding of the different Free Trade Agreements, Tariff Line, and Certificate of Origin discussed by different personalities from BETP, Philippine Trade Training Center, Bureau of Customs, and Tariff Commission of NEDA, an open forum then ensued with Ms. Arcily Cabanilla-Gonzaga, STIDS-DTI Caraga at the helm as moderator. One of the issues raised was how can the Philippines be the next Singapore. Mr. Jason Lao responded with conviction that Singapore and Philippines have different business models---while Philippines is abundant in natural resources, Singapore definitely knows what it doesn’t have and built it strength on it. It works its way to become the best logistic provider (for flow of goods) and as a contracting bridge for other ASEAN countries, something that the Philippines can work on.

Finally, a breakaway session for the Fresh/Processed Food and the Homestyle/Gifts, Decors and Housewares sectors was carried out for a more detailed and in-depth discussion on issues and concerns of producers from the respective sectors. (NCLM/PIA-Caraga/DTI-Caraga)

Water Conservation

By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY — The city government asked residents here yesterday to conserve water particularly this summer season. “Let us put into practice of what we’ve learned about conservation of water so that the next generation may continue to enjoy an unlimited supply of water resources, “ said Region XIII Regional Executive Director Leonardo R. Sibbaluca of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The region’s DENR official made this reminded even as the DENR prepares to celebrate World Water Day on March 22, which focuses on the theme “Katiyakan sa Tubig, Katiyakan sa Pagkain.”

People Asked To Conserve Water In Summer


BUTUAN CITY – The government on Saturday asked the people to conserve water particularly this summer season owing to its essential component of the food that we eat apart from its uses in irrigation, drinking, and bathe.

The people reminded to use the water “wisely and intelligently”.

“ Let us put into practice of what we’ve learned about conservation of water so that the next generation may continue to enjoy an unlimited supply of water resources, “ said Region Xlll Regional Executive Director (RED) Leonardo R. Sibbaluca of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The region’s DENR official made this reminded even as the DENR prepares to celebrate activities the World Water Day next week (March 22) focus on the theme “ Katiyakan sa Tubig, Katiyakan sa Pagkain”.

He said some people have the practice of throwing waste into the waterways which pollutes the rivers, lakes ,estuaries, and other water bodies which can affect our food resources. “ Let us stop this bad habit of dumping wastes into the rivers, creeks and esteroes to preserve our resources,” RED Sibbaluca said.

“ We thought it’s just a little matter when we see a busted pipes oozing with fresh water on the street but consider the volume of resources that are being wasted away which are considered precious to the people in other parts of the world who are suffering from inadequate water supplies” he added.

According to Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon JP Paje, the DENR has lined up activities focused on increasing public awareness to conserve water resources “ because it is an important component of our life “.

Secretary Paje said “ water is very much incorporated in the food supply chain, whether in irrigation and fisheries or producing feeds for our livestock,” Paje said.

The World Water Day 2012 will also look at how the swelling population can cope with the increasing pressure on available water resources by consuming less water-intensive products and reducing food wastage, which translates to lost water, according to him.

“This is the concept of measuring the ‘water footprint’ or the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed or produced,” Paje explained.

A water summit dubbed “Water Knowledge Fair at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City will introduce  “knowledge products” focused on delivering water services  particularly in rural areas. This will be participated by   government agencies, local government units, water service providers, and other stakeholders.

The participants will discuss different water-related programs and strategies. The event is being organized by the Philippine government, along with partners from the Millenium Development Goals Fund.

Butuan CPOC members give updates on peace, order situation for 1Q

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 16 (PIA) -- Member-agencies of the City Peace and Order Council here chaired by Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr., convened Thursday and tackled issues, concerns, and updates on the peace and order situation in the city.

On behalf of the city mayor, City Councilor Ryan Anthony Culima presided the said meeting. This monthly meeting is in line with the implementation of president Aquino's Philippine Development Plan on Good Governance.

PCINSP Reynante Sibayton of Butuan City Police Office (BCPO) bared its operational accomplishments. On its campaign against illegal gambling (PD 1602), two positive operations were conducted from February 28 to March 14, 2012 that resulted to the apprehension of three persons and the confiscation of cash bet money for lotto/swertres, and several gambling paraphernalia while two cases were filed at the City Prosecutors Office.

On accounting of wanted persons, Sibayton revealed that a total of seven persons were arrested for the period, all covered with warrant of arrest.

Sibayton further bared that on its campaign against illegal possession of firearms (RA 8294), one positive operation was conducted by BCPO, which resulted to the arrest of two suspects and confiscation of one unit cal. 22 magnum revolver (homemade), one unit cal 35.16 revolver (homemade), and one unit 38 cal revolver. Two cases were filed in court against the suspects.

“With the unyielding police operations in the pursuit against criminalities, the whole city of Butuan remains peaceful and manageable with the unstinted support from other concerned government agencies, non-government organizations, religious sectors, and the community,” said Sibayton.

Also, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Caraga Deputy Director Cristy Silvan reported that from January 1 to March 13, their office has conducted 11 successful operations wherein nine persons were arrested and 11 cases were filed in court.

Silvan also stressed that their target tasks for this year are as follows: prioritize high value operations; ensure air-tight cases against drug personality; intensify advocacy efforts in strategic areas; and strengthen relationship with all stakeholders to achieve peace and order situation.

Meanwhile, a representative, Aldebaran Mordeno of the City Social Welfare and Development Office bared that 15 years old and below ‘rugby boys’ in their custody are now participating on a basketball tournament in Barangay Poyohon.

“The PNP here is the one shouldering the uniforms and shoes while officials in barangay Poyohon are providing their food and CSWDO is in charge of the other necessary expenses. In this way, we encourage these rugby boys and other children to engage into sports instead of getting themselves involve into any crimes,” Mordeno stressed.

With this, the city government with other partner agencies asked the support and cooperation of the general public on its campaign to peace and order. (JPG, PIA-Caraga)

Government troopers seized huge abandoned NPA camp in Agusan-Surigao boundary

By (PNA)


BUTUAN CITY, March 15 (PNA) -- The Philippine Army’s 402nd Brigade based in Surigao del Sur reported that soldiers seized on Wednesday afternoon a big New People’s Army (NPA) camp located within the mountainous provincial boundary of Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte.

Col. Ferdinand Napule, commanding officer of the 402nd Brigade, said patrolling soldiers of the 402nd Third Special Forces discovered the abandoned NPA camp in Sitio Kamalig, Barangay Puting Bato in Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte which is near the boundaries of the two Surigao del Sur towns of Cantilan and Carasscal.

The three localities are known mining areas for gold, nickel, copper and chromite.

Both police and military reported that the abandoned camp is capable of providing shelter for 500 persons complete with six kitchens, 126 bunkers, 30 outposts and foxholes.

The camp is believe to be the main lair of the Guerrilla Front 21C of the NPA North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Soldiers recovered from the NPA camp one superpower generator (2HP NG-1000), 20 liters of gasoline, 100 meters of electric wire, two gallons of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), 12 sacks of assorted materials used for the production of IEDs, two gallons of epoxy, four cans (1.35 kilos per can) of marine epoxy and food stuff.

Butuan City allots P1-M for 2012 Balangay Festival



BUTUAN CITY, March 14 (PNA) -- To commemorate the historical importance of the centuries-old "balangay" boats through the month-long Balangay Festival set annually every May, the city government has allotted P1 million for the festival's Silver anniversary this year.

The Sangguniang Panlungsod recently approved a resolution authorizing City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante Jr. to enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the City Tourism Council for the latter to organize and manage the Balangay Festival silver celebration.

The City Tourism Council has been tasked to market and promote calendared activities of the festival as well as to find ways and means to raise other needed funds to be used for other tourism-related activities during the May 1-31 Balanghai festival.

Agusan Norte hosts last sports event in Butuan

By PAT SAMONTE, Regional Editor-Caraga

with JOEL PORTUGAL, Correspondent

BUTUAN City––The provincial government of Agusan del Norte formally opened the Inter-Departmental Employees Athletic League (IDEAL) Meet 2012 at the Capitol Covered Court here last week. Teams from different provincial government offices, regional agencies and Butuan City hoisted their respective banners in what Governor Erlpe John Amante said is Agusan del Norte’s last hosting of this annual sporting event here. Amante said the IDEAL Meet will henceforth be held in Cabadbaran City where the provincial capitol will be transferred. Provincial information officer Edgar Palarca, Jr. said the IDEAL Meet is scheduled every first semester of the year where teams vie for honors in basketball, volleyball, bowling, table tennis, badminton, dart, billard and lawn tennis. Palarca said the aim of the sports competition is to promote physical exercise, discipline and camaraderie among government officials and employees. He said the hosting of the annual sporting event will most likely be turned over to the city government of Butuan. Earlier, City Councilor Jaime M. Cembrano, Jr. expressed the city’s readiness to host the sports meet next year.

Butuan City to offer potential PPP projects

By Eldie N. David

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 12 (PIA) -- The Sangguniang Panlungsod recently approved an ordinance authorizing City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr. to offer potential Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects to prospective private investors.

The ordinance, principally authored by Vice Mayor Lawrence Fortun, is in line with the Executive Order No. 51 issued by Mayor Amante creating the PPP Executive Team to advocate, conceptualize, initiate, organize, coordinate, direct and oversee the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the different PPP programs, projects and activities.

In his explanatory note, Fortun emphasized the following as basis in filing the ordinance: 1) the natural and economic resources of Butuan City present enormous potentials for rapid economic growth and sustainable and equitable development; 2) there is an impetus to develop and implement a comprehensive economic agenda to maximize and convert potentials into concrete and environmental gains; 3) the PPP as advocated by the national government is seen as a pivotal and key strategy in the implementation of the economic agenda; and 4) the Local Government Code of 1991 vests upon the LGU the prerogative to enter into contracts involving its properties, subject to limitations imposed by law, and provides LGU with wide ranging authority to undertake major infrastructure improvements and to seek financing for this purpose.

Among the list of projects eligible for PPP offering are: power plants, slaughterhouse, tourism projects, piggery, swine semen processing center, hydropower projects, farm facilities, farm to market roads, agricultural mechanization, public markets, public toilets, public terminal, education and health facilities, mega-infrastructure projects, solid waste management, land reclamation projects, drainage, dredging and other infrastructure and development projects as may otherwise be identified by the PPP Executive Team pursuant to E.O. 51 issued last December 29, 2011.

The PPP projects that will be entered by the City of Butuan will observe the following principles under the ordinance: 1) that the LGU of Butuan shall adopt and implement a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interests; 2) that the LGU of Butuan City shall uphold its advocacy of entering into a clear, honest and transparent PPP contracts; 3) risk allocation should be based on the party most capable to manage the risk; 4) PPP partnerships should be feasible and affordable. From the onset, the project should be feasible, demonstrating the need for the project, broad level project costs estimation and indicative commercial viability; 5) PPP partnerships should be bankable. PPP should be bankable as financiers will be reluctant to commit funding when a project entails high participation costs, unreasonable risk transfer or lengthy and complex contract negotiations; 6) PPP partnership projects should provide value for money. PPPs should provide value for money and good economic value, which is not necessarily the same as least cost, and includes: allocating risks to the party best able to control and manage them; and maximizing the benefits of private sector efficiency, expertise, flexibility and innovation; 7) PPP partnership projects should provide economic and social benefits. PPPs underlying principle stems from the fact that the public authority remains responsible for services provided to the public, without necessarily being responsible for corresponding investment; and 8) PPP projects should have due consideration for empowerment of Filipino citizens.

The implementation of PPP projects should have due consideration for the empowerment for the citizens as a strategy for economic growth and sustainability. (NCLM/PIA-Caraga/BC-CMO)

Cities Prepare For Earth Hour

By Mike U. Crismundo)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Key cities in Mindanao are set to participate in the “Earth Hour 2012” activities by sending thousands of biodegradable lanterns to the sky in time for the light switching off from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on March 31 this year.

Officials and residents in the key cities of Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Davao and Surigao are set to make history in Mindanao by sending a large number of biodegradable lanterns to the sky during the one-hour switching off of lights in houses and industrial plants.

In time for the Earth Hour 2012, the Department of Energy (DoE), in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines and in coordination with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), will be conducting a seminar on energy efficiency and conservation, targeting a multi-sectoral participation from the local government, students, businesses, NGOs, and various consumers.

Earth Hour is a global environmental initiative spearheaded by WWF and Leo Burnett.

It began in one city in 2007 and by 2011 reached over 1.8 billion people in 135 countries across every continent, receiving acclaim as the world’s largest campaign for the planet.

Earth Hour Philippines debuted in 2008 and has since grown into one of the largest annual events in the country, with over 18 million participants in 2011.

Officials in this region’s frontier city led by Cagayan de Oro Mayor Vicente Y. Emano are preparing for this big event.

Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr. and Surigao City Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas are also spearheading the big event in their respective cities

Crame official guest at the Caraga PNP SAR training culmination rites

By Noel B. Najarro

BUTUAN CITY, March 10 (PIA) -- Police Director Rey Lanada, chief of the Directorate for Human Resource Doctrine and Development (DHRDD) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from Camp Crame, Quezon City, was the guest of honor and speaker as Police Regional Office 13 concluded its Disaster Search and Rescue Training in a culmination rites held at Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez, this city, yesterday afternoon.

The 151 trainees coming from the different mobile groups region-wide will serve as the regional police core and immediate response team in their respective areas of responsibilities.

“The training evolved from the experience of the regional PNP when the catastrophic effects of Typhoon Sendong hit some parts of the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan ,” Genabe said in his welcome message.

“This is part of our measure on disaster preparedness, to train and equip our personnel and form a core team for immediate disaster response on any contingencies,” Police Chief Supt. Reynaldo S. Rafal said in an interview.

A highlight of the activity was the demonstration of the swiftness and speed in immediate search and rescue response by two of the best teams during the training, the teams from the Surigao del Sur Police Provincial Office and the Agusan del Norte Police Provincial Office.

Five police officers from Agusan del Sur PPO were also made recipients of the “Medalya Ng Pagtulong Sa Nasalanta” for their meritorious and active participation of search, rescue, and relief operations during man-made and natural calamities in the said province. The recipients of the police prestigious award cited in General Orders No. 110, dated March 8, 2012 signed by CSupt. Rafal were PSInsp. Gauvin Guanzon, PInsp. Elvie Salino, SPO1 Leonides Yaoyao, PO3 Felmor Eguana, and PO2 Roberto Opaon.

The Surigao del Sur PPO SAR team who bested the other teams by garnering 92.50 percent during the last-day competitions, which included boat-handling, life-ring throwing, basic knot-tying and the collapsed structure search and rescue scenario, was awarded the “Medalya Ng Kasanayan,” and a monetary reward. (NCLM/NBN/RER-PIA Caraga)

One Stop Resource Center for youth and migrants launch, receives overwhelming support

By Ritchel Molero

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 9 (PIA) -- The provincial government of Agusan del Sur, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), launched the Datu Lipus Makapandong Youth Employment and Migrant Center on February 24, 2012.

It received overwhelming support from various government agencies, NGOs, faith-based organizations, youth and migrant organizations, and private sector.

The ceremonial cutting of ribbon was spearheaded by Agusan del Sur Governor Adolph Edward G. Plaza and IOM Philippines National Programme Organizer Mr. Ricardo Casco.

They were also joined by Department of Labor and Employment Caraga Regional Dir. Ofelia B. Domingo, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Caraga Regional Dir. Marieta A. Lumawag, and Philippine Overseas Employment Agency Caraga Regional Dir. Marieta Bellotindos, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will signify their support in providing social and economic programs and services for the youth and migrants.

Plaza expressed his heartfelt gratitude to IOM and other stakeholders for the timely realization of the One Stop Resource Center.

He also took pride for its establishment as it is the first OSRC built in the entire country through local government units and IOM collaboration. Meanwhile, Ric Casco of IOM warmly all the people who persevered to realize the project, especially the DOLE Province, headed by Naomilyn Abellana and Province’s PESO, headed by Divina Lagumbay.

“This turnover goes with the capacity-building investments poured into your service staff and partners who shall help your local government provide an improved employment, training, counseling and migration related services to your constituencies, particularly sensitive to the needs of the youth,” Casco added.

The Datu Lipus Makapandong Youth Employment and Migrant Center will serve as information hub and venue for discussions of issues on youth, employment, migration, psychosocial services and trainings, YEM programs and services.

It will also provide economic opportunities by creating and/or expanding livelihoods and community enterprises through investments, job matching and incubation center for micro-enterprise development.

The establishment of the Datu Makapandong Youth Employment and Migrant Center was initiated in 2011 by the International Organization for Migration and ATIKHA under the Project “Establishment of One Stop Resource Center” and as a part of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Joint Programme on Youth, Employment and Migration (YEM) Alternatives to Migration: Decent Jobs for Filipino Youth funded by the MDG Achievement Fund. (NCLM/PIA-Caraga/DSWD-13)

Butuan braces for 3rd VMLP Mindanao Island Congress

By Eldie N. David

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 8 (PIA) -- The Working Committee from the Office of the Vice Mayor and the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Butuan City have geared up its preparation for the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines (VMLP) 3rd Mindanao Island Congress slated on June 20-23, 2012 at a convention center in the city.

The conference, which will be hosted by the VMLP Caraga Regional Chapter, will espouse the theme: “Protect the Natural Environment: Preserve the Natural Wonders, Promote Eco-Tourism.”

This year’s conference will have a different twist as tour packages has been prepared by the organizing committee in lieu of the usual break-out sessions done on conferences.

In this manner, actual site seeing of the region’s eco-tourism destinations will be experienced by the participants while in-depth understanding and awareness on these areas is expected through the mobile lectures in the course of the tour to be made by Caraga’s tour guides.

A meeting of the Working Committee was held recently to beef up plans for the said event. Around 1,000 delegates are expected to grace the event.

According to Fortun, not only vice mayors from Mindanao will attend the conference as others from the other parts of the country are also expected to attend the congress.

Fortun added that during the VMLP National Convention he attended recently, several Vice Mayors from Luzon and Visayas have already expressed interest to attend the said event as they are also excited to discover Caraga region. (NCLM/PIA-Caraga/BC-VMO)

SP enhances procurement process on infra projects

By Eldie N. David

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 7 (PIA) -- The Sangguniang Panlungsod has recently approved an ordinance enhancing the procurement process for all infrastructure projects in the city.

The measure is to ensure that infrastructure projects should be constructed and built with the highest quality standards to benefit the general public upon its use.

Under the ordinance, all contractors are required to seek accreditation from duly certified professional organizations and certification from recognized local accreditation bodies to ensure systems and procedures used in the construction are quality-assured and within international standards. This should all be done within the prescribe time frame of compliance.

The ordinance has also set additional requirements based on the Allowable Range of Contract Cost (ARCC) and/or Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) with the corresponding time frame of compliance, in addition to the eligibility and technical requirements mandated under R.A. 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA).

The measure also empowered the Bids and Awards Committee – Technical Working Group (BAC-TWG) to: 1) assess and review contractor’s compliance of the Additional Requirements set forth in the said ordinance; 2) visit and inspect the batching plants and project sites at any time to validate and/or determine compliance of contractors of batching plant accreditation and observance of construction safety and health program among its workers; 3) monitor, test and/or require batching plants to carry out from time to time production/testing activities and prepare reports in order to monitor production and testing procedures; 4) conduct technical safety inspections and general safety audit of construction project sites to ensure compliance of the mandatory occupational safety and health standards; 5) submit written report and/or recommendation within fifteen (15) days from date of inspection to the City Mayor, and 6) perform other related functions.

The ordinance was jointly authored by all the members of the council led by Councilor Angelo S. Calo, Chairman of the Committee on Public Works and Vice Mayor Lawrence Fortun. (NCLM/PIA-Caraga/BC-VMO)

Barangay Tourism council created

By Eldie N. David

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 5 (PIA) -- To extensively promote the country’s tourism campaign “Its more fun in the Philippines," the Sagguniang Panlungsod has approved the creation of the Barangay Tourism councils in Butuan City.

In an ordinance approved recently by the Council, barangay officials are now mandated to organize their respective Barangay Tourism Councils and elect for themselves officers.

The Barangay Tourism Council shall be membered by all interested organizations, purok Presidents or officers, businessmen, teachers, youth leaders, religious leaders, association president, transport President and others.

Under the ordinance, the council shall have the following functions: 1) initiate, organize, source out funds and implement tourism activities within the Barangay during its Barangay Fiesta, Araw ng Barangay, Christmas, Valentines and the like; 2) identify, plan, develop and promote tourist spots, activities, delicacies, souvenir and the like to benefit the local stakeholders financially and economically out of the reproduction and sales of the said spots, products, delicacies and souvenirs; 3) present to the City Tourism Council its identified tourist spots, tourism activities, programs and projects, together with their suggestions, recommendations, request for approval and funding for its development, and; 4) such other function or functions as the City Tourism Council, the Sangguniang Panlungsod and the City Mayor’s Office shall delegate in relation to the very intent and purpose of its creation.

The chairman of the Sangguniang Barangay Committee on Tourism shall automatically be the Barangay Tourism Officer and at the same time Honorary Member of the Barangay Tourism Council while the Punong Barangay shall automatically be the co-chairman of the council.

All elected Barangay Tourism chairman shall automatically be a member of the Barangay Tourism Federation and shall elect from among themselves their officers such as the Barangay Tourism Federation Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, PRO, Business Manager, Board of Trustees or other position as they deem it fit in accordance with their functions. In turn, the elected Barangay Tourism Federation Chairman shall automatically be a member of the Butuan City Tourism Council. (NCLM/PIA-Caraga/BC-VMO)

Caraga nipa sugar healthier, has bright prospects

By (NCLM/MUC/PIA-Caraga)

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 4 (PIA) -- A development group in Mindanao has recommended to farmers, especially sugar planters, to take advantage of the nipa tree to boost their sugar production, which is also expected to propel the growing economy in the Caraga Region.

Based on a study, the group said nipa trees belong to the same family as that of the coconut tree, but the sugar produced from it has low glycemic index, and according to international standards, if the glycemic index is within 50 or below 50, the product is good for the body.

For the coco sugar, the glycemic index is about 35 and for the nipa, it is lower than that of the coco sugar.

However, the group said this has to be verified first by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

Citing the Web site, the group said the glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating.

Foods with a high GI are those that are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health.

Low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2).

They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.

A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health also disclosed that the risks of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease are strongly related to the GI of the overall diet.

In 1999, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommended that people in industrialized countries base their diets on low-GI foods in order to prevent the most common diseases of affluence, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

The Foundation for Rural Enterprise and Ecology Development of Mindanao (Freedom) also suggested to farmers to exploit nipa that are largely seen at the various areas in Northeastern Mindanao, particularly in coastal areas.

The foundation stressed that nipa sugar production is good for the health.

In a roundtable discussion with local newsmen at the regional office of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) here, the officials of the group led by its executive director Antonio Peralta said that the nipa tree is abundant in the Caraga Region, a good substitute for sugar cane and coco sugar, and it is good potential of the region’s economic development

The officers of the group said nipa tree is seen everywhere in the coastal areas in the region, and could be an additional livelihood for shoreline villagers.

GSIS grants emergency loan for members in La Paz, Agusan del Sur

By Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY, March 3 (PIA) -- The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has approved the grant of emergency loan for GSIS members in La Paz, Agusan Del Sur who were affected by flashfloods caused by heavy rains in the area during the early part of the year, announced yesterday by President and General Manager Robert G. Vergara.

According to Vergara, GSIS members in La Paz may apply for the loan from March 1 to April 2, 2012, saying that a total of 750 government employees in La Paz will benefit from the program. These employees are part of the 6,000 families who were affected by flash floods in the area that caused extensive damage to property, livestock, poultry, rice and corn fields, and infrastructure.

Government employees in La Paz are employed in three public agencies: Agusan Del Sur Division Office of the Department of Education, Municipal Government of La Paz and La Paz National High School. They may apply for the loan through the GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System kiosk using either the eCard or Unified Multi-Purpose ID eCard. GSIS members who lost their cards but who are eligible to apply for the loan may apply over-the-counter in any GSIS office.

“The GSIS Board has reduced the interest rate for the emergency loan from eight to six percent. We also removed the service fee in the loan to make it more responsive to the needs of members especially during difficult times,” Vergara explained.

Eligible members who may file for emergency loan include bona fide employees of the agency located in the declared calamity area or are resident of the declared calamity area; in active service and not on leave of absence without pay; have no pending criminal or administrative charges; have no arrearages in the payment of mandatory social insurance contributions; and have no loan that has been declared in default.

Members in agencies whose loan privileges were suspended because of non-remittance of premium and loan payments are not eligible to apply for the emergency loan. (RER-GSIS-Butuan Branch/PIA Caraga)

Butuan City Tourism Office, DOLE conduct “Error-Free, Service Quality Workshop”

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

BUTUAN CITY, Mar. 2, (PIA) -- To further enhance the skills and work attitude of the workers, the City Tourism Office here in collaboration with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Caraga jointly spearheaded the “Error-Free, Service Quality Workshop” held Friday in one of the local convention centers here. Participants of said forum are Human Resource and Management (HRM) students from Saint Joseph Institute and Technology (SJIT), representatives from the different establishments and government agencies. According to City Tourism officer Maria Jocelyn Rojo, the main objective of the workshop is to reorient all tourism-related establishments in giving an "Error Free" Quality Service to its customers.

DOLE-Caraga Regional Dir. Ofelia Domingo also expressed that she is very happy to work with Butuan City Tourism Office especially for this Error-Free, Quality Service Workshop. She also encouraged the participants to apply the things in their field of work whatever they will learn from the activity. Earl Dela Victoria, board secretary VI of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) Caraga, emphasized that their office with DOLE is providing the soft skills to all the participants of said workshop while it will be the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) who will be giving the hard skills through hands-on trainings. He also substantially discussed how to achieve an error-free service to the customers. "Doing it (assigned tasks) right the first time is the surest way to reach zero defect in service quality," added Dela Victoria. Also, City Administrator Leah Mendoza said that no matter what job we have for living, we should have the desire to give quality service to our clients/customers & enjoy the things we do. "If you commit mistakes in your work, accept it and never do it next time. Focus to your work and provide error-free service quality to your customers," she said. Department of Tourism (DOT) Caraga Regional Dir. Leticia Tan stressed that everyone has a role to play to help boost the tourism industry. "We should work and bring ourselves into error-free, quality servants to our clientele. When we are working with perfection, we are also attracting investors to come and put up businesses in Butuan City," Tan said. Meanwhile, the City Tourism Office and DOLE expressed that they are open for another set of participants for the same workshop with other partners in the government agencies and private sectors. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)

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