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USAID, through the Philippine Environmental Governance Project, assisted the local government (Davao City) in establishing, through a local ordinance, the mangrove area as a marine protected area. A crucial part in effective coastal resources management is law enforcement with Bantay Dagat teams playing a crucial role by safeguarding local waters. In Davao City Philippines, Bantay Dagat members protect mangrove areas from illegal cutting, thus conserving areas for fisheries and marine biodiversity habitats.


DOST to turn over 56 sensors for Davao Region


DAVAO CITY, March 3 (PNA) -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will turn over some 56 hydro meteorological sensors to local chief executives in Davao Region on Friday.

The sensors were installed in different parts of the region under Project NOAH or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards with an aim of using state-of-the-art weather tracking equipment.

The turnover, which will be spearheaded by Secretary Mario G. Montejo, is among the activities of the "Science Nation Tour under the theme "Inspire, Engage and Convert". The Science Tour is DOST’s national roadshow of all its projects and services.

The tour, dubbed "Agham na Ramdam" (Science that is felt), is a follow up to the DOST’s "Iba na ang Panahon (INAP) Science for Safer Communities" staged last year in the country's 17.

A Science Extravaganza will also be held where it will show that science and technology (S&T) are vital components of the government's efforts to help the lives of every Juan.

During this occasion DOST will be awarding known personalities as Science Ambassadors like Senator Bam Aquino, Senator Ralph Recto, Atty. Sara Duterte, Congressman Mariano Piamonte, Councilor Mabel Acosta, Joey Ayala and Popong Landero at the University of Southeastern Philippines in Obrero Campus. Manila's hottest new band, the BOB band, will be featured in the culminating activity.

A Zumbafest will be held the next day, March 7 at 5 a.m at People's Park, Davao City.

Davao LGUs to receive weather tracking equipment

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will formally turn over 56 hydro meteorological sensors (HMS) to local government units in Davao Region on Friday.

DOST-Davao Assistant Director Mirasol Domingo, who guested in Monday's edition of Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao, said DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo will hand over to local chief executives the sensors in time for the first leg of the Science Nation Tour, which will be held in Davao City.

She said nine sensors are installed in Davao City, 19 in Compostela Valley, 12 in Davao del Norte, four in Davao del Sur, and 12 in Davao Oriental.

Aside from these, Domingo said they are planning to install 10 more HMS in the region this year.

She said they have proposed sites where these will be installed but it will be the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), which will decide where these sensors are to be set up.

"The Hydromet project is a component of Project Noah (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), which aims to use state of the art weather tracking equipment to provide a better picture of the country's surface waters," DOST-Davao said in a statement.

On March 6, DOST-Davao will host the first regional leg of the Science Nature Tour, which centers on the theme "Inspire, Engage and Convert." It is a national roadshow of DOST to promote the agency's programs, projects, and services.

During the regional roadshow, the agency will award its Science Ambassadors during the Science and Technology Extravaganza at the gymnasium of the University of Southeastern Philippines. Manila-based band BOB will also be featured.

The following day, they will stage the Zumbafest at People's Park.

4 more BPO firms set to expand in Davao

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

FOUR business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, with a combined 3,500 seats, are looking at Davao City for their expansion this year, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) in Davao Region reported.

"Several other big players in the BPO industry are also putting up shop in Davao, which bodes very well for our employment targets and statistics, since this sector is anticipated to provide more quality jobs this year. In fact, there will also be four BPO companies that will put up shop in Davao City, with a combined 3,500 seats," said Maria Lourdes D. Lim, Neda-Davao director, during her recent regional economic report.

But Lizabel G. Holganza, president of National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), told reporters at the sidelines of the General Membership Meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (Cancham) at Park Inn Hotel Davao on Thursday that they cannot yet disclose the name and details of these four BPO companies.

"That is a rule for incoming investors. They don't want their identity reavealed until they have signed a contract already," she said, adding that she is also not in the position to say if these BPO investors have already signed a contract or not.

Holganza also said there have been visits from potential BPO investors around the last quarter of 2014 and earlier this year who are looking into putting up shop here in Davao City.

"But until such time..., we usually let the investor make that announcement themselves," she said.

Holganza and Lim said the recent developments in the BPO industry in Davao City show the growing confidence and interest of BPO investors to the city.

"More IT firms are eyeing to establish branches or offices in the Region with Davao City identified as one of the country's outstanding BPO destinations and a consistent Next Wave City," Lim said.

For her part, Holganza said Davao City being one of the top ten destinations for BPO locations has made the city a choice for potential BPO investors.

Lim said on top of the potential entries to the information communication technology (ICT)-BPO arena, existing BPOs are also planning to expand their workforce within the year.

"One of the BPO companies commencing operations in 2015 is Convergys, the country's largest BPO company. Convergys recently hired 1,000 agents for its operations in Davao City," she said.

Earlier, Sutherland Global Services announced that they are looking into expanding their manpower from some 2,000 to some 3,000 by the end of 2015.

For the first quarter alone, they will be hiring 700 more workers.

Chamber to promote Davao ICON in Dubai trade fair

By Jesse Pizarro Boga

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 February)–In a bid to bring in more foreign investors here, the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) will be participating in a major trade fair in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the end of March.

Architect Daniel Lim, DCCCII executive vice president, said the group will set up a booth during the 5th Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) in Dubai City.

“[We] will be there to actively promote investment opportunities in the country and in Davao [City] through the return of the Davao Investment Conference (ICON),” he said.

DCCCII’s representation became possible through a partnership with the Philippine Board of Investments, the Mindanao Development Authority, and the Davao City Investment and Promotion Center.

During the recent DCCCII general membership meeting, Lim said that promoting the Davao ICON, which is set to return this July after a two-year hiatus, will open possible projects in Davao that can be pursued by prospective investors and joint venture partners from any part of the world.

The AIM Exhibition 2015 will feature various industry projects and services catered for the investment growth of various participating developing regions. The theme of AIM this year is “Sustainable development through foreign direct investment (FDI)-induced innovation and technology transfer.”

AIM is expecting more than 500 exhibitors from 140 countries this year from various sectors, including agriculture, education, energy, finance, healthcare, infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, pharmaceuticals, and tourism.

The event will be held from March 30 to April 1, 2015 at at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center. Last year, AIM was participated by more than 120 countries and 10,000 investors.

Lim expressed optimism that the Philippines and Davao City will be recognized during the AIM event, which promotes the participating country’s investment opportunities both in the public and private sectors.

Dubai, UAE’s finance and trade center, is a hub that the DCCCII wants to tap for potential business partnerships that can range from power, real estate development, or manufacturing.

Lim expressed hopes they can bring investors joining the AIM 2015 to the Davao ICON.

“As Davao’s business chamber, we want to promote the city,” he said.

Davao ICON 2015 is expected to draw 500 participants and 150 exhibitors. Last January, DCCCII president Antonio T. dela Cruz said that they are eyeing to have the event held in July at the SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang.

The Davao ICON was last held in 2012.

US-based cruise ship to attract tourists

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

THE docking of the MS Caledonian Sky of the US-based cruise liner Zegrahm Expeditions in Davao City on Thursday is seen to boost the tourism of Davao Region.

Department of Tourism (DOT)-Davao Director Roberto Alabado III told reporters at the sidelines of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (Cancham) Davao Chapter that the docking of the cruise ship shows that Davao Region and Davao City can become a destination for cruise ships.

City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) officer-in-charge Lisette Marques, in a separate interview with Sun.Star Davao on Friday, said the cruise passengers, mostly Canadians and Americans who were able to see the city, will go back to their homes and share what they saw in the city.

Alabado said when the tourists go back to their homes, they will have good words to say about Davao and it will be translated to further interests to the region and the city.

Marques also said this goes to show the growing confidence of tourists to visit the city and the region amid the recent developments in Mindanao.

She said the cruise director was able to see how peaceful the area was despite the recent happenings in Mindanao.

She said the last time Zegrahm Expeditions had an expedition to the Philippines was in 1999.

Alabado said the cruise line stopped coming to the Philippines due to security issues.

Marques said the city was the last port of call of Zegrahm Expeditions' MS Caledonian Sky before it started out its Indonesian expedition.

The ship's first port of call was in Sandakan, Malaysia, then it went to Palawan, some Visayan Islands, and Mindanaoan islands prior to docking in the city.

Marques said Thursday that a total of 88 passengers disembarked from MS Caledonian and were toured at the Philippine Eagle Foundation and Malagos Farm before they flew to Manila to take their flights to the US or Canada.

On the same day, 66 passengers boarded the MS Caledonian for the Indonesian expedition.

Both batches of passengers were greeted with a cultural performance.

Marques said the cruise director is also considering to dock again in the city sometime next year.

However, Marques pointed out that there is still the need to have the ports in Davao City to be developed for cruise tourism.

She said they are calling on the Philippine Ports Authority or the Department of Transportation and Communications to look into the development of the ports in Davao for cruise tourism, particularly the Sta. Ana Wharf.

Tourist arrivals to hit 2 million

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

THE National Economic Development Authority (Neda) in Davao Region said it is expecting tourist arrivals in the region to hit two million mark in 2014.

"Davao Region has been included in the Top 5 tourism growth areas in the country, with tourist arrivals expected to hit the two million-mark in 2014," said Maria Lourdes D. Lim, Neda-Davao director, in her economic report earlier this month.

However, only the first quarter data for 2014 is still available and at present, the complete figures are still being consolidated.

Though only the first quarter data of 2014 is available from the Department of Tourism (DOT)-Davao, data showed that tourism arrivals for the first quarter of 2014 increased by 3.04 percent to 371,133 from 360,182 in the same period in 2013.

Domestic tourists grew by 0.85 percent to 342,965 from 349,958, and still accounted for the bulk of tourists with 92 percent of total visitor arrivals.

Foreign tourists increased by 39.97 percent to 28,168 from 20,124.

"[The increase in] foreign tourists [can be attributed] to the stable peace and order situation in the Region, on top of the effective promotion and marketing campaigns of the region's tourist attractions and other tourism-related offerings," Lim said.

She also said the increase in foreign tourists arrivals can be attributed to the improvement of tourism infrastructure in the region in 2014.

"Koreans were the top foreign visitors in the Region, followed by Americans, Japanese, Chinese and Australians," Lim said.

She said for 2015, they are seeing brighter prospects in the tourism industry as DOT 11 rallies in more tourists to come to the Region with its massive promotion and tourism infrastructure developments.

"Davao Region was also heavily promoted as the Region recently participated in Travel Mart. Mindanao Destination, a private-public partnership tourism venture, will also spur more fun in the Region as it provides easier tour across the region," Lim said.

She said there is also the prospect of additional direct flight from Davao to South Korea as South Korean travel agencies recently visited and assessed the marketability of Davao.

"Adding more flights from South Korea to Davao City is strategic since Koreans are considered as the top foreign visitors in the Region followed by Americans, Japanese, Chinese and Australians," Lim said.

She said the Let's Meet in Davao MICE Program, inclusion of the region's banner tourism events to the Visit the Philippines Year, and the staging of the 2015 Palarong Pambansa in Davao del Norte are also seen to boost the region's tourism industry.

Newly-opened SSS branch to cater to 50,000 Dabawenyo members

(PIA-11/Carina L. Cayon)

DAVAO CITY, Feb. 25 (PIA) – The Social Security System (SSS) has recently opened a new branch placed at the heart of Davao’s downtown area to cater to about 50,000 members who will now have easier access of SSS services.

The newly-opened SSS Ilustre branch located at Gaisano Grand Mall at Ilustre St. offers full-service covering issuance of SSS number, acceptance and processing of applications on benefit claims such as sickness, maternity, disability, funeral and death applications.

The office, which is open at 10:00am to 7:00pm on Mondays to Fridays, also features the Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID) Data capture section and will be headed by Officer-in-Charge Mary Ellen A. Estoque.

The branch intends to particularly service about 3,180 employers, 20,000 employees and around 30,000 self-employed members within the area of Jacinto St. to Bankerohan bridge covering 23 barangays.

Marissu G. Bugante, vice-president for SSS Public Affairs and Special Events Division, said the opening of the new branch in Davao is keeping pace with the city’s robust growth through multinational investments which provide employment to many Davaoeños.

SSS Davao information officer Mario Daray said that as of January 2015, there are a total of 760,229 SSS members in Davao City which consist of 574,759 employees, 182,994 self-employed, and 2,476 voluntary paying members.

Bugante said SSS has opened 25 branches nationwide last year, aiming to ease congestion and to bring SSS services closer and more accessible to the 32 million members including the self-employed, voluntary paying members and members from the informal sector such as tricycle drivers and market vendors.

She added that additional branches with five new branches and five service offices will be opened within this year.

Louie Sebastian, head of SSS Media Affairs Department, bared that another branch for Davao City will be put up soon in Toril area.

She said that as of end of last year, SSS has a total of 262 offices nationwide, 43 of which are found in Mindanao, 41 in Visayas, 118 in Luzon, and 60 in the National Capital Region.

Council approves P600-M supplemental budget

By Arianne Caryl N. Casas

THE City Council approved on third and final reading Tuesday the P600-million Supplemental Budget 1 (SB1).

However, Councilor Rene Elias Lopez voted "No."

"These have not passed through the alignment of the budget," Lopez said during the nominal voting Tuesday.

He questioned the city's plan on purchasing new trash bins and equipment when the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) has not educated the public on how to properly keep and use the old ones.

Except for Lopez, a total of 16 councilors voted for the affirmative.

Meanwhile, Councilors Jimmy Dureza, Edgar Ibuyan and Marissa Abella were not at the plenary hall during the votation.

The P600-million budget was appropriated solely for Davao City's Solid Waste Management program alone.

The amount, which will be loaned from the Land bank of the Philippines, will be used to acquire 23 units of brand new collection vehicles and hydraulic lifting devices and 13,566 units of new waste containers or mobile garbage bins.

"The acquisition of additional bins requires additional units of compactors, otherwise, the collection system will be inefficient and impractical," Cenro said in its project design.

The council rushed the approval of the SB1 after Mayor Rodrigo Duterte certified it urgent.

P10-B water project completed in five years

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

THE P10-billion Tamugan Surface Water Development Project is expected to deliver around 300 million liters per day (MLD) once it is completed.

DCWD spokesperson Bernardo D. Delima told Monday that the project is expected to be finished by 2019.

The project, scheduled to start next year, is a joint venture agreement between DCWD and the consortium of J.V. Construction Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc.

Delima said the necessary documents for the project will be complied this year after which they will sign the contract with its partners.

Delima has said they are preparing the franchise area for the Tamugan Surface Water Development Project by upgrading the pipelines.

Feb. 25 declared special holiday for schools

By Arianne Caryl N. Casas

PRIVATE and government offices will be in their normal operations this Wednesday as February 25 is a special holiday for all schools only.

Malacañang made February 25 a special holiday to mark the 29th Anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution in accordance with the Proclamation 831 signed by President Benigno Aquino III.

The Philippine government's official twitter, @govph, posted: "#walangpasok, February 25, 2015, Wednesday, is a special holiday FOR SCHOOLS ONLY."

The Edsa People Power Revolution in 1986 ended the regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos who served the country for 21 years and catapulted Corazon Aquino to power as the new Philippine president.

February 25 was made a special holiday only for schools since 2010.

Countdown begins for city athletes

By Karlo Paolo R. Pates (PIA 11-Joey Sem G. Dalumpines)

THE countdown begins as the Davao City delegation departs today for the Davao Regional Athletic Association (Davraa) Meet 2015 slated February 24 to 28 in Mati City, Davao Oriental.

Department of Education (DepEd)-Davao City division sports coordinator Jima Gelmo, in an interview at the sidelines of the send-off ceremony program at the Davao City National High School (DCNHS) Saturday, said: "We will leave for Mati City two days earlier from the opening day of Davraa to give time for our athletes to familiarize with their respective playing venues. They can train and practice before the competition starts."

The Davao City Cluster will be fielding in a total of 600-member delegation composed of athletes, coaches, chaperons and Deped officials. "Once we arrive in Mati, the delegation will attend a mandatory courtesy call before the city government officials before we can proceed to our billeting quarter," Gelmo said.

The Davao City delegation will stay at the Davao Oriental College for Science and Techonology, saying:"Gwapo ang lugar kay safe puy-an para sa mga bata kay dagko ang pader. Naa sad mga magbantay (It's a good billeting venue for our athletes especially for our security)."

Gelmo also bared that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will be the keynote speaker in the opening rites.

She said that the Deped-Davao City has no worries about the security, adding: "We already have an advance party to check the situation in Mati."

Agri-tourism and Trade bazaar opens in Davao City

(PIA 11-Joey Sem G. Dalumpines)

DAVAO CITY, Feb 20 (PIA) Several heads of government agencies in Davao Region urged members of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies in Davao Incorporated to continue the cooperation among themselves and government in pushing Davao Region as a tourist destination to ensure inclusive growth.

The Naitas opened its tourism and trade bazaar at the Abreeza Mall from February 20 to 22 with the theme, “Agri-Trade Tourism is life.”

Ma. Belena Ambi, director of the Department of Trade and Industry 11 said travel agencies can maximize tourism, agriculture and trade in inviting people to come to the region.

She assured the support of government to the tourism industry through the small-medium enterprise.

Ambi said the tourism industry generates jobs beneficial to the families.

“All our efforts must be geared towards the realization of the inclusive growth that must be felt and experienced by the citizenry,” she said.

Roberto Alabado, III, director of the Department of Tourism 11 cited the NAITAS for opening Davao Region to the world.

He stressed that travel promotes regional development since it does not only provide jobs in places of destination but also the experience and knowhow in the management of tourism activities.

“Travel brings experiences, learning history of places lessons can be applied to places where we come from,” Alabado said.

He also bared that the DOT plans to position Davao Region as the fruit basket of Asia due to the many fruits it can offer like the banana, mangos teen, marang, mango and durian.

Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre, chair of the city council committee on tourism said the exhibition has helped the push of Davao City as an island to highland destination.

He said the activity has promoted the awareness about the tourist destinations in Davao Region.

“I assure full support to Naitas, as long as it is for the promotion of the tourism industry of the city,” Alejandre said.

Night flying helicopters part of PAF pilot training


THE helicopters seen flying over Davao City on Wednesday night are part of the proficiency training for Philippine Air Force pilots, nervous city residents were told.

"It was night proficiency training for pilots of the Air Force. It's a regular exercise from time to time in case of emergency. There is nothing to worry about," said Major General Eduardo Ano, chief of the Army's 10th Infantry Division.

The PAF Tactical Operations Group (TOG) plans, controls and coordinates the employment of tactical air support elements for the military in Eastern Mindanao.

The 10th ID spokesperson, Lieutenant Vergel Lacambra, also said that before the training was launched, they airlifted the casualties from a clash between the government troops and communist rebels in Mati City in Davao Oriental.

Ano said another encounter happened while troops were pursuing the rebels who attacked the Mati police station last Sunday.

Lacambra said the second clash took place in Sitio Kupot, Barangay Banglasan in Montevista town, Compostela Valley at around 9 a.m. Thursday. The fighting lasted for about 15 minutes.

He said one member of the New People's Army's Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC) Front 3 was killed during the clash with the troops from the Philippine Army's 25th Infantry Battalion.

Big party awaits Dabawenyos on Chinese New Year


DAVAO CITY, Feb. 18 (PNA) -- The celebration of the Chinese New Year in this city will come with a big surprise for Dabawenyos when Chinese nationals and Tsinoys lead the activities from late afternoon until midnight at the Chinatown here.

Jasper Huang of the Chinatown Development Council of Davao disclosed that this year’s celebration is much better and merrier even with absence of the fireworks display and firecrackers, which is an important activity for Chinese New Year celebration. He said the activity will also showcase Chinese food, music and live entertainment.

"There will be surprises that Dabawenyos should witness as we meet the New Year," he said.

He said activities include a parade with dragon and lion dance, a Chinese cultural presentation, and the Chinese New Year welcome ceremony in the evening of February 18. The parade will start at 4:30 p.m. from Magsaysay Park to J.P. Laurel and will end at the Arch of Peace.

A Chinese New Year fun run is also being organized as well as the Chinese New Year night ride.

The 24-hectare Chinatown of Davao City could be the biggest in the Philippines covering the city's major thoroughfares from Ramon Magsaysay Avenue, Sta. Ana Avenue, Bangoy, Monteverde and Lizada Streets.

Huang said they are now in the process of completing a design that will make the area a real Chinatown.

The latest, he said, are the 60 street posts complete with colorful stands bearing signage of Chinese characters.

He said the project is in cooperation with Banco de Oro which provided P3 million for the project.

Since two years ago, the Chinatown has already put up four big arches namely the Arches of Peace, Friendship, Unity and Prosperity that were built in the different entrances around the area.

Huang also said part of the Council's project is the conduct of inventory to determine the type of businesses operating in the area.

He said the city government is closely coordinating with them as Mayor Rodrigo Duterte strongly supports the development of Davao City's Chinatown.

Meanwhile, the different malls in the city had organized activities for the Chinese New Year celebration like SM City Davao where it mounted an exhibit area where Chinese entrepreneurs sell items like good luck stones, charms, red packets, wishing paper and many others. Food like “tikoy” is sold in boxes of different sizes while fruits are also sold for good luck.

SM also brings in Feng Shui expert Richard Yu who will share his forecasts and prediction this year of the Wooden Sheep and will do individual consultation on February 21 to 22. SM Lanang Premier already brought in Marites Allen last week to give her 2015 forecasts and predictions for a group and individual.

City gets P455.5-M tourism road projects

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Davao Region set aside a total budget of P455.5 million for the implementation of 10 tourism road infrastructure projects in Davao City under the Department of Tourism-DPWH Convergence Program.

Three road projects will be implemented by the regional office and will have a combined project cost of P220.3 million, one will be located in the first district while the other two in the third district.

The three road projects are the P60.3 million improvement of Matina Shrine road leading to Shrine Hills and Jack's Ridge Resort in Matina; the P100 million upgrading of the Lomondao-Salaysay-Arakan road leading to Mt. Apo Lomondao in Marilog; and the P60 million upgrading of access road leading to Malagos Garden Resort and Philippine Eagle Sanctuary in Calinan.

Seven road projects will be implemented by the Davao City District Engineering offices (DEO) and will have a combined amount of P235.2 million. The third district will have the most number of projects with four road projects; the first district has two projects while the second district has one.

Projects in the third district are the P50 million improvement and concreting of Manambulan-UP Mindanao road in Tugbok; P50 million improvement and concreting of Mintal-Tacunan-Matina Biao Biao Escuela road leading to Deca Wakeboar and Gumamela Caverock Farm in Tugbok; P30 million improvement and concreting of Catigan (juction Davao-Cotabato road)-Eden (Uguis) leading to Eden Nature Park, Toril; and the P20 million upgrading of the Lacson-Lamanan-Inayangan-Magkawayan road leading to Magkawayan Peak.

Projects in the first district of Davao City include the P50 million improvement and widening of Ecoland Terminal-Aplaya junction Davao-Cotabato Road (Matina crossing)-junction Punta Dumalag road leading to Seagull Beach Resort, Pawikan Sactuary, and Felis Beach Resort; and the P15.2 million improvement of Mabini Extension with drainage leading to the Davao Crocodile Park.

The project in the second district is the P20 million upgrading, reconstruction, and wideing of the Buhangin-Cabantian-Communal road leading to D'Leonor Inland Resort in Communal.

The DOT-DPWH Convergence Program is established "to facilitate the efficient and more coordinated effort among DOT and DPWH to identify, prioritize and implement technically-correct and politically participative road access leading to tourism destinations as identified in the National Tourism Development Plan.

Davao's tourism gets further boost

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

THE revival of AirAsia Philippines' Manila-Davao-Manila flights starting on March 27 is seen to further boost the tourism industry in Davao City, a city tourism official said.

"This is good news to us. Adding more flights means better competition and competition gives an array of options for travelers coming to Davao," Lisette Marques, Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) officer-in-charge, said in a text message to Sun.Star Davao yesterday.

She said AirAsia has a wide network and the re-established Manila-Davao-Manila flights puts the city as another destination that foreign travelers could visit aside from Manila.

"We hope that they could also explore short haul flights coming from Davao to other parts of Southeast Asia like Bali, Jakarta, Brunei, and even as far as Darwin, Australia," Marques said.

AirAsia Philippines will be offering three daily Manila-Davao-Manila flights serviced by their Airbus 320. Manila-Davao flights are Z2 611 at 7:50 a.m.; Z2 613 at 3:05 p.m.; and Z2 615 at 7:40 p.m. while Davao-Manila flights are Z2 612 at 10:15 a.m.; Z2 614 at 5:30 p.m.; and Z2 616 at 10:05 p.m.

"Davao City is an important gateway to Mindanao. We are partnering with local government units and various stakeholders in the region to develop products and services to further boost tourism and promote Davao as a major tourist destination to local and foreign tourists," said Joy Caneba, AirAsia Philippines' chief executive officer.

Last December 2014, the airline revived their Cebu-Davao-Cebu flights offering twice a day flights serviced by their Aribus 320. Cebu-Davao flights are at 9:10 a.m. and 3:20 p.m. while Davao-Cebu flights are at 11:00 a.m. and 5:10 p.m.

At the same time they also relaunched their Cebu-Cagayan de Oro-Cebu twice daily flights.

"AirAsia is committed in connecting communities in the Philippines, in the region and beyond with our newest routes between Cebu and Mindanao.

We would like to provide much needed connections and tap into underserved markets, grow it, as there is definitely great tourism and business potentials between these cities," Cañeba said earlier during press briefing at Seda Hotel last October 2014.

Earlier, she also said they are looking at the establishment of the Davao-Kalibo-Davao and Davao-Kota Kinabalu-Davao routes.

Brighter prospects for agri products

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

ON DECEMBER 25, 2014, the Philippines became the beneficiary country for the General Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) of the European Union (EU). It became the 13th beneficiary country of EU and the only South East Asian nation to be included in the GSP+.

The GSP+ is different from the Regular GSP. The Regular GSP, which benefits 29 countries, only imposes zero tariff on 2,442 products and reduced tariff to 3,767 products while the GSP+ imposes zero tariffs on 6,274 products.

With the implementation of the GSP+ there are bright export prospects for fisheries and agribusinesses, whether they are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or are growers and producers.

Many of the products that will be given zero tariffs are agriculture and fisheries products, processed and fressh. Some of these products include tuna, tobacco, pineapple and pineapple-based products, sardines, fruits, and coconuts, among others.

In her presentation during the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) information session on "Doing Business with the EU using GSP+" at the Apo View Hotel in January, DTI Export Marketing Bureau assistant director Agnes Perpetua R. Legaspi said coconut-based products, tuna, and pineapples are some products from the Philippines that will benefit from GSP+.

She said of the coconut-based products, the Philippines is very competitive when it comes to crude coconut oil because Philippines, as of 2013, takes 71 percent the $615 million crude coconut oil EU is importing from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

"Probably for this sector we have more window to grow and can be given a little more push," Legaspi said.

As of 2013, desiccated coconut is also a strong export commodity in EU considering that it comprises almost 60 percent of the $131 million dessicated coconut being imported by EU from the Asean.

Legaspi also said there is a huge opportunity now for the Philippines when it comes to exporting tuna. As of 2013, Philippines only takes up 24.19 percent of the $669 million tuna being imported by EU from the Asean. Thailand holds the top spot among Asean countries who are exporting tuna to EU with a market share of 51.02 percent.

"But there is now an opportunity because Thailand has now graduated from the regular GSP, hopefully we will be able to eat some of its market share," she said.

Legaspi said there is also potential for the export of pineapples to EU since the country only has a share of 12.12 percent of the $274 million pineapples being imported by EU from Asean. Leading the pack is Thailand with a 67.52 percent share and Indonesia with a 19.33 percent share.

She also said there is a huge market for condiments considering that Philippines only takes up 2.59 percent of the $141 million sauces and mixed condiments being imported by EU from the Asean.

For her part, DTI-Davao regional director Maria Belenda Q. Ambi said even prior to the GSP+ Davao-based agribusiness exporters are already trading banana chips, fresh banana, coconut crude oil, coconut sugar, coco water, desiccated coconut, copra pellets, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, and dried mango to the European market.

Legaspi also underscored the importance of value adding because when there is value adding, there will be additional processes to the value chain and in turn generate more jobs and add value to the products.

However, Legaspi pointed out that now with the opportunities presented by the GSP+, it is important that agribusinesses and those in fisheries be compliant with the regulations and the standards of EU.

"We all know of how strict EU is on some products before they enter their market. The challenge now is how we can hurdle the higher standards," Legaspi said, adding that they have lined up initiatives to make sure the products of exporters are compliant to the market regulations of the EU market.

Legaspi also said there is the challenge when it comes to catering to the demand of the EU market. She said clustering and proper consolidation will play an important role in catering to the demands of the EU market.

For her part, Ambi said it is now in the hands of the agribusinesses and those in the fisheries sector whether they will avail of the GSP+ or not.

She said if the exporter is in need of assistance, DTI can provide the necessary assistance they need like product development and helping them know what requirements to comply.

"We really need to get together to maximize the opportunities presented by the GSP+. And we see Mindanao, especially Davao, to contribute more export value to the total Philippines exports," Legaspi said.

DA 11 strengthens partnership with LGUs

By Cherry Mae D. Palicte [(PNA), CTB/LCM/CMDP/LDP]

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA 11) has strengthened its partnership with the local government units (LGUs) for the implementation of its projects, programs and intervention to attain sustainability and success of the government on the fishery industry.

"The local government units had been our tested and proven partners in agricultural development for without them we cannot effectively deliver technical and infrastructure services on the ground," Agriculture regional director Remelyn R. Recoter said.

“What’s important here is that you will already know what are the projects or interventions that we will have to implement and we need your feedback in order for us to improve our services,” she added.

She disclosed that in 2016 all DA interventions will be based on the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP), the operational plans, programs and activities, guided by the vision and goals of the province.

Davao region is largely agricultural in character and it requires that the economic development should be anchored on sustaining resource strengths and developing resource potentials consistent with DA 11 enhanced development framework of the province.

Meanwhile, Ma. Febe Orbe, assistant regional director for operations said DA will help equip the LGUs with guidelines and updates on the different banner programs of the agency.

“We would like to be more transparent with the DA programs and projects. We cannot do it alone, we want to work hand in hand with our partner LGU’s for hitting the target of our programs,” Orbe added.

For this year, DA 11 has a total of P1.4 billion budget to be spent for their programs, project and interventions.

The biggest chunk of the allocation for this year is for the Farm-to-Market Road Program which is P400 million, followed by High value crops Development Program (HVCDP) with P250.7 million, P180.9 million for the Rice Program, P122.948 million for Bottoms-up-Budgetting (BUB), PAMANA has P112.348 budget allocation, P96.488 million for regular programs, P91.3 million for Corn, P75.645 million for Market-Oriented Projects, P61.1 million for Livestock, P50.330 million for Sajahatra Bangsamoro, P16.201 million for Organic Agriculture, P5.798 for Auto Appropriation and P2.733 million for Agricultural Research.

Davao City starts pilot underground cable project

(PIA/RG Alama)

DAVAO CITY- A joint working group from the local government and a utility firm will start inspecting the site for a pilot underground cabling project.

Atty. Joseph Felizarta acting assistant city building official said the proposed area for the pilot underground cables will be within the Davao City Hall and Sangguniang Panglungsod peripheries.

The current set-up is horizontal cabling where electric and telecommunication cables are propped up by posts.

Felizarta said Davao Light and Power Company is allocating P70-million for the project. He expects other companies with cables on the poles to allocate fund for the undergound cabling.

He said that having underground cables will rid the area of dangling wires which is an eyesore. It will really help in tourism, our surroundings will be cleaner and orderly. Felizarta said.

He also said that wires encased underground tend to be protected from the elements as compared when they are exposed in the posts.

Felizarta said these cables are safe and well-protected from calamities such as floods.

He added that Davao Light through its sister company has already undertaken the same project in Cebu City. The project is expected to start after the Araw ng Dabaw celebrations this March 16.

Davao banana production up by 11%

By Reuel John F. Lumawag (PIA/RG Alama)

BANANA production in Davao Region rose by at least 11.63 percent as of the third quarter last year, the Department of Agriculture's (DA) regional office reported.

Production increased to 762,040.78 metric tons (MT) in 2014 as compared to 682,633.25 MT in the same period of 2013.

DA-Davao Regional Director Remelyn R. Recoter attributed the growth to the expansion of lands planted with bananas.

Recoter said the increase is a sign that the banana industry has recovered from the devastation of Typhoon Pablo, which in 2012 ravaged around 14,000 hectares of banana plantations.

The highest increase was recorded in Compostela Valley: 79.09 percent, to 142,142.58 MT from 79,370.93 MT. The province ranked third in the region.

Davao del Norte remained as the top producer of banana in the region, producing 412,857.72 MT last year, a 2.34 percent rise from 2013.

Banana production in Davao Oriental was up by 19.90 percent (25,821.03 MT last year from 21,534.61 MT in 2013) while production in Davao del Sur increased by 2.42 percent (110,672 MT from 108,055.67 MT).

Davao City experienced only a minimal increase of 0.43 percent (70,546.59 MT from 70,245.33 MT).

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)-Davao earlier reported an increase in bananas exported in terms of both gross weight and freight of board (FOB) value.

Gross weight of bananas exported increased by 531.87 percent to 5.36 billion kilos as of the second quarter of 2014, from 849.22 million kilos in the same period in 2013.

The FOB value went up by 50.02 percent to $355.68 million last year from $237.03 million in 2013.

Davao City Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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