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City gov’t to intensify anti-smoking crackdown

By Jasmine Mohammadsali

The City Government will initiate an intensified week-long crackdown on violators of the smoking ordinance next week in line with the global commemoration of World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

From May 25 to May 31, the Smoke-Free Task Force of Zamboanga City will be making the rounds in public areas within the City to monitor compliance and apprehend violators of Ordinance 413, also known the Ordinance Regulating Smoking in the City.

According to City Health Officer Dr. RodelinAgbulos, aside from the intensified crackdowns on violators, the Task Force will also be initiating public advocacies on the dangers of smoking.

It will also closely monitoring cigarette vendors’ compliance to the ordinance, specifically the provisions that prohibit the sale of cigarettes to minors and in areas within 100 meters from school perimeters.

Immediate closure of establishments found to be in violation of these provisions will be recommended by the Smoke-Free Task Force, added Agublos.

The World No Tobacco Day is an annual activity spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners to bring to the forefront the health risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

With the theme “Stop illicit trade of tobacco products”, this year’s World No Tobacco Day calls on countries to work together to end illicit trade of tobacco products inasmuch as this is a major global concern, including health, legal and economic, governance and corruption.

Last year, the City commemorated the World No Tobacco Day with the full implementation of Ordinance 413. Enacted in June 2013, the ordinance prohibits smoking in centers of youth activity such as playschools, preparatory schools, elementary and high schools, colleges and universities, youth hostels; elevators and stairwells; fire hazard locations; within buildings and premises of public and private hospitals, health centers, clinics, nursing homes and laboratories; public conveyance and facilities such as airports, bus stations and ship terminals; restaurants and conference halls except for separate smoking areas and food preparation areas.

The ordinance likewise provides penalties for smokers as well as establishments violating the provisions of the law. For smokers, the penalties are P500 or one day community service for first offense; P1,000 or two days community service for second offense; P2,000 or three days community service for third offense and P5,000 without prejudice to the filing of any criminal case or at the discretion of the Court for fourth and subsequent offense.

Prior to its full implementation, a City-wide information drive was initiated by the City Government.

DepEd assess Zambo schools’ readiness to offer senior high school


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 20 (PNA) –- The Department of Education (DepEd) announced that 25, including two stand-alone (annex), of the 37 local public high schools are ready to offer senior high school curriculum in 2017 in line with the DepEd’s K-12 program.

Dr. Pedro Melchor Natividad, DepEd’s city schools division superintendent, said Wednesday the 25 schools have passed the criteria of DepEd to offer senior high school such as “they have a buildable space and facilities.”

“The minimum for DepEd is one public senior high school-ready per division only, but I’m happy to inform you in the division of Zamboanga, each district will be able to provide senior high school (by 2016),” Natividad said.

However, Natividad disclosed the 25 schools will still be subjected to final assessment to determine the capability in offering senior high school curriculum.

Natividad said he is not worried about Junior High School (Grade 11) since all of this city’s 37 local public high schools are capable to offer Grade 11 curriculum.

The DepEd will start offering Junior High School curriculum in 2016.

Natividad said they expect that 14,716 students will enroll in Junior High School in public schools while 2,317 in the private schools.

He said students who could not be accommodated in Senior High School (Grade 12) since not all public schools are ready to offer Grade 12 curriculum may opt to enroll in private schools and will subsidized by the government.

He said they will received an annual subsidy of PHP20,000 from the government.

BFAR earmarks P12.7M for fish landing sites, engines in Zambo

By Sheila Covarrubias

In line with its program on poverty alleviation, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Monday turned over to the City Government, four certificates of award for the construction of community fish landing centers and 200 units of pumpboat engines for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and indigents.

BFAR Regional Director Ahadullah Sajili presented to Mayor Beng Climaco during the flag raising ceremony in front of City Hall Monday, the certificates of award for the establishment of fish landing centers in Labuan, Arena Blanco, Mangusu and Logpond in Tictapul at a cost of P3 million per unit.

The Community Fish landing centers follow the concept of a “bagsakan center” for agriculture products. In this case, the centers will be used for fish and fishery products at the same time will serve as multi-purpose centers where the concerned associations will hold meetings, skills training and data gathering activities.

The certificates of award confirm the availability of funds for the construction of the projects subject to guidelines set in a memorandum of agreement.

On the other hand, the 5 horse power pumpboat engines are intended for internally displaced persons and indigents who depend on seaweed farming and fishing for their livelihood. Each recipient must own a non-motorized banca. Identification of the beneficiaries were done by the City Agriculturist Office in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, City Social welfare and Development Office and camp managers. Each engine costs P3,920.00

Recall that Mayor Climaco requested BFAR National Director Atty. Asis Perez, during the latter’s visit to the City last year, to come up with projects and programs for the benefit of the IDPs who are mostly engaged in fishing and seaweed farming.

The pumpboat engines and the certificates of award for the fish landing centers are results of the representations made by the mayor.

In the recent months, BFAR assisted qualified residents of the city through the grant of seaweed inputs to include seedlings, binders, nylon as well as bangus fry.

Brigada Eskwela 2015 kicks off, focus on Zambo transitory site


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 18 (PNA) – The Brigada Eskwela, a school cleanup program to prepare for the coming school year, kicked off Monday at the Masepla Transitory Site in Barangay Mampang, this city.

The Masepla Transitory Site houses families displaced during the 21-day September 2013 siege.

A motorcade from the City Schools Division office of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Barangay Baliwasan to the Masepla Transitory Site preceded the opening program of the Brigada Eskwela.

The program in this city is jointly spearheaded by DepEd, Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Belen Sheila Covarrubias, City Hall information officer, said the Brigada Eskwela 2015 in this city highlights the effort to ensure efficient and effective education to children of all abilities regardless of age, religion, race or economic status.

Covarrubias said the Masepla, currently the biggest transitory site in the Zamboanga Response, is equipped with four temporary learning centers operated by the UNICEF in partnership with WMSU, under the so-called composite school system.

She said the learning centers were initiated and funded by various partners to include the Silsillah Learning Center and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), among others.

She said the students and parents at the Masepla Transitory Site gave testimonies a well as pledged to support and avail of education services in the coming school year.

In the afternoon, she said the children will have a fringe play or recital based on what they learned the past months from the theater workshops.

The Brigada Eskwela program is a nationwide voluntary activity which brings together teachers, parents and the community to do clean up and repairs in public schools to prepare the facilities for school opening.

The program is undertaken for one week and is done two weeks before the start of classes.

This year, the Brigada Eskwela is anchored on the theme: “Tayo para sa Kalinisan, Kaligtasan at Kagandahan ng ating mga Paaralan”.

City honors Zamboangueño hero

By Bong Garcia

MAYOR Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar will lead Monday, May 18, the observance of Dia de Heneral Vicente Alvarez (General Vicente Alvarez Day), the only Zamboangueño revolutionary hero whose gallantry led to the surrender of Spanish soldiers in 1899.

The ceremony will start with the wreath-laying at 7:30 a.m. at the Plaza de Heneral Vicente Alvarez in front of Plaza Pershing and a commemorative program will follow at 8 a.m. in front of City Hall.

Relatives of the late General Alvarez are expected to grace the occasion.

Highlight of the commemoration will be the exhibit of winning entries in the photo essay competition launched to capture and showcase examples of the impact of Alvarez's bravery and valor in everyday acts and situations in the city.

The contest was anchored on the theme: "Footprints of the General: Bravery in the Face of Adversity for Positive Revolutions of Change."

A commemorative mass was set at 5 p.m. Monday at the Fort Pilar Shrine.

The observance Monday is pursuant to City Ordinance 334 naming Plaza Roma situated at the Corner of Don Pablo Lorenzo Street, Zaragoza Street and General Alvarez Street as Plaza Vicente S. Alvarez, and setting May 18 of every year as Dia de Heneral Vicente S. Alvarez.

Displeased by the brutalities committed against the Filipino people particularly in Zamboanga City, Alvarez and his men realized the need for all Filipinos to join the fight for the people's sovereignty.

On May 18, 1899, after fierce fighting, Fort Pilar, the seat of the Spanish government in the city, fell and the Spanish forces led by Governor-General Diego delos Rios surrendered to Alvarez.

ICRC putting up PhP2.2-M water system in Zambo City village


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 16 (PNA) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is building up a PhP2.2 million communal water system project in Barangay Taluksangay, 19 kilometers east of City Hall.

The project is being undertaken in close coordination with the Taluksangay barangay council.

ICRD assistant Gabriel Anthony Daclan said Saturday the water system project was expected to be completed and operational by the end of June or mid-July this year.

Daclan said the project would benefit the residents of Taluksangay, a waterless barangay, as well as the 373 families relocated to the place after they were displaced during the 21-day September 2013 siege.

At present, the residents of Taluksangay buy water from nearby barangay of Talabaan while the local chapter of the Philippine Red Cross provides water to the displaced families.

Daclan said somee 2.4 kilometers of pipeline were being laid from the water source at Sitio Gapuh, Barangay Talabaan to reservoir at the campus of the Taluksangay National High School.

Daclan said water from the source had passed the potability tests conducted by the Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD).

He said that eight communal taps, where the people could draw water, would be connected to the reservoir.

He said the works were being undertaken by 30 internally displaced persons (IDP) hired through the cash-for-work program.

“Taluksangay is a rural area and the people are facing difficulty since the place has no water. We are happy to find a water source at a property owned by the Nuño family,” he said.

The barangay chairman of Taluksangay is Abdurahman Nuño, the husband of second district Rep. Lilia Nuño.

Daclan said the project, once completed, would greatly alleviate the plight of the residents of Taluksangay and the relocated IDP families.

Daclan said the project would be turned over to the barangay council of Taluksangay for it to manage the water system upon completion.

Employment rate up by 1.7 percent in first quarter

By Bong Garcia

THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) announced that the employment rate of Zamboanga Peninsula for the first quarter of 2015 has increased by 1.7 percent to 97.5 percent from 95.8 percent rating for the same quarter in 2014 based on the results of the Labor Force Survey (LFS).

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) conducts LFS every quarter of the year.

Gay Iris Tangcalagan, Dole regional information officer, said the employment rate increase was brought by the continued conduct of jobs fair and distribution of starter kits in the region.

Tangcalagan said they have conducted 17 jobs fair in the first quarter of this year in the entire region.

Tangcalagan noted it is higher by five compared to the same period of last year wherein they conducted only 12 jobs fair.

The opening of new malls and the increased activities in construction industry, as well as government and private firms hiring also contributed to the increase of employment rate in the region, said Tangcalagan.

She said the LFS data also showed a decline in unemployment rate of 1.7 percent to 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2015 from 4.2 percent registered in the same period in 2014.

ILP kicks off today with 4 companies

By Sheila Covarrubias

The Interruptible Load Program (ILP) will officially kick off today, May 14 with the ceremonial switch-on of generator sets of four industrial companies that is expected to save at least 4-5 megawatts power.

This means a reduction in the duration of blackouts by one hour.

The decision to jumpstart the ILP scheme, a short term or immediate solution to the present power crisis besetting the city and other parts of Mindanao, came about during a meeting Wednesday afternoon between Mayor Beng Climaco, Zamcelco personnel led by Board President Omar Sahi, business groups, Zamboanga Economic Zone and Freeport Authority Chair Chris Arnuco and other city government officials.

The four companies initially participating in the program are Permex Producer and Exporter Corp., Philippine International Development Inc. (PHIDCO), Mega Fishing Corp. and Ayala Sea Foods Corp.

Mayor expressed gratitude to the initial participants to the ILP scheme saying this is their way of expressing support to the local government, as she acknowledged the sacrifice that the business group will be doing.

The ILP is a demand-side management solution regarded as one of the countermeasuyres meant to help mitigate the projected power supply strain in the summer months of 2015. It works by calling on consumers with loads of at least 1MW to run their own generator sets during peak hours instead of drawing power from the grid.

Earlier Mayor Climaco Executive Order BC 113-2015 enjoining the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (ZAMCELCO) to exhaust all means to implement the ILP in a bid to reduce the six-hour daily rotational power interruptions in the City. Business groups that will be participating in the ILP scheme will be granted incentives and the ordinance for this purpose has already been approved after the mayor certified it urgent.

Climaco acknowledges that there are problems in the city’s power supply but stressed that her administration never stops looking for alternative solutions to the problem. “In times like these, we appeal for your understanding and continued support. Be assured though we are taking steps slowly but surely to avert the power outages.”

The city’s current power requirement is 90MW but the current supply reaches only 66MW leaving a deficit of 24MW which is equivalent to 6 hours rotational brownouts daily.

The ILP is a short term solution where a total of 15 business and industrial companies initially enrolled in the loading shedding program that will generate a minimum of 10MW. The long term solutions include the additional power supply, rehabilitation of plants and capacity sharing among grids.

Also present during the meeting at the Zamcelco Board Conference Room in Putik were City Legal Officer Atty. Jesus Carbon, City Investment and Promotions Officer Apple Go, Engr. Remuel Aca-ac, EA-1 head and in-charge of ILP, Pocholo Soliven- private sector representative to the Regional Development Council (RDC), Michael Lim of Mega Fishing, Edwin To representing Ciudad Medical, Edgar Lim of Permex, Andrew Wee of Phidco, Eugene Viray of Ligo Sardines and numerous others.

SSS, BFAR to sign MOA for E-Alkansiya program

By R. G. Antonet A. Go [(PNA), CTB/TPGJR/R.G. ANTONET A. GO]

ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 13 (PNA) – A total of 100 job order and contractual employees of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office are set to benefit from the Social Security System (SSS) E-Alkansiya program.

Napoleon Rabanal II, SSS senior communications analyst, said Wednesday the SSS and BFAR are forging a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the implementation of the program benefiting BFAR’s 100 job order and contractual employees.

Rabanal said the MOA will be signed Thursday by the following: Atty. Rodrigo Filoteo, SSS assistant vice president for Western Mindanao; Elizabeth Cabatingan, SSS-Zamboanga City branch head; and, Ahadulla Sajili, BFAR regional director.

“These job order and contractual workers don’t have a secured future that is why the SSS enrolled them (in E-Alknasiya program),” Rabanal said.

He said they job order and contractual workers were identified as beneficiaries of the program since they don’t have social security insurance.

The monthly contribution scheme in the E-Alkansiya program is through salary deduction. The human resource head will be the one to deduct the SSS monthly premium of Php330 from each worker and to remit the same to the agency.

The SSS has similar program being implemented jointly with the local government, Western Mindanao State University, Department of Public Works and Highways, San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm and other government and private firms.

Zambo City advocacy against HIV targets schools, barangays


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 12 (PNA) –- The City Health Office continues the advocacy against Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) to prevent the spread of the dreaded disease in this city.

This as Dr. Kibtiya Uddin, assistant city health officer, disclosed that this city “is considered as one of the risk city” when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevalence.

According to Uddin, this city has 2.7 percent HIV/AIDS prevalence based on the 2013 HIV surveillance.

This Uddin said that the current prevalence rate translates to two people diagnosed positive on HIV every month in this city.

Uddin said they will conduct HIV surveillance this year since it is being held every two years.

She said the focus of the advocacy is in the schools and in the barangays as part of the intervention against HIV/AIDS.

“If we are not going to do intervention, we might reach five percent HIV prevalence like in some cities where there are high cases,” she said.

HIV/AIDS is transmitted through risky sex behavior such unprotected sex men, having sex with men (MSM) and multi sex partners.

She said they also provide free HIV testing “to those who have risky behavior, vulnerable sectors, and those who wanted to know their health status” as part of the efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The City Health Office in partnership with the Department of Health is conducting free confidential HIV testing in line with the observance of the National HIV Testing Week from May 11 until May 15.

Meanwhile, Uddin said this city has already recorded 137 HIV/AIDS cases with 25 deaths from 1995 to May 2015.

Of the total, Uddin said 121 of those afflicted are males and 16 are females.

She said that 96 of the 137 cases are from this city while the 41 others are transients.

She also said that the corresponding number of cases and ages of patients are as follows: 15 to 24 years old, 45 cases; 25 to 34 years old, 60 cases; 35 to 44 years old, 28 cases; and, 45 to 54 years old, four cases.

Kite flying entries highlight Zamboanguenos’ ingenuity

By Sheila Covarrubias

From the simple to the bizarre. The entries to the kite flying competition launched last Saturday at Paseo del Mar as part of the 2015 Summer Festival featured original creations that speak of Zamboangueno ingenuity and talent.

The variety of entries submitted for the figure and flat categories came in different shapes, color and sizes and were adjudged for their functionality as well as creativity. The flat kites were 2D or two-faced kites while the figure kites were those built as 3D figures with realistic shapes.

After the 3-hour competition, Rebner Bello who submitted a kite with the UN flags design topped the figure category and went home with P5,000 cash prize with a plaque. Second place with P3,000 cash prize was Glen Saavedra, whose entry was designed like an owl while Ronald Quibilan garnered the third prize of P2,000 with his butterfly-design kite. All winners got a plaque.

In the flat category, the kite with the big butterfly design submitted by Jason Geroy was adjudged as the top winner with P3,000 cash prize. Second and third place winners were Ronnie Mariano whose entry resembled the angry bird and Joshua Soriano with his fish-designed kite with P3,000 and P2,000 cash prize, respectively. All winners received a plaque.

Rebner Bello also garnered the Bulador del Pueblo (Favorite of the Crowd) special award in the figure category with Marvin Entrata getting the title in the flat category. The Chiquiting Bulador (smallest kite) award went to Glen Saavedra in the figure category and Jerome Espiritu got the title in the flat category. The Jumbo Bulador (biggest flying kite) special award meanwhile went to Rebner Bello in the figure category and Jayson Geroy in the flat category.

The Kite Flying competition was one of the highlights of the 2015 Summer Festival and was graced by Acting Mayor Cesar Iturrale, acting Vice Mayor Roel Natividad and City Sports Director Dr. Cecil Atilano.

NHA completes construction of 84 houses for families displaced by Zambo siege


ZAMBOANGA CITY — Eighty-four families that were among those displaced during the 21-day September 2013 siege are set to receive permanent shelters.

Second district Rep. Lilia Nuño said Saturday the recipients were among the 200 identified families to receive housing on stilts in Barangay Taluksangay, 19 kilometers east of City Hall.

The 116 of the 200 families received their respective housing units last February 26.

Nuño said the permanent shelters will be turned over to the identified beneficiaries by Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Corazon Soliman on May 16.

Nuño said each house cost more or less PHP200,000 to include the septage system.

The houses were built by a private construction firm contracted by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

The funds used to construct the houses on stilts came from the PHP3.9 billion President Benigno Simeon Aquino III allocated for the Zamboanga Roadmap to Recovery and Reconstruction (Z3R).

Meanwhile, Nuño said they have requested the NHA to allocate additional funds to construct permanent shelters for the remaining 173 families that are still housed at the transitory site inside the Taluksangay National High School campus.

The families staying at the transitory site, including those who already received permanent shelters, were originally from the barangays of Mariki, Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina and Talon-Talon.

The five barangays were among the areas affected during the September 2013 siege.

Zambo library, pilot facility for Tech4ED program nationwide

By Sheila Covarrubias

The Zamboanga City Library is the first public library in the country where the Tech4ED program is implemented ensuring access points for individuals and communities to bridge the digital and education divide to information, communication, technology, non-formal education and skills training.

This, following the formal signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the National Library of the Philippines, the Information and Communications Technology Office under the Department of Science and Technology and the City Government through the City Library for the installation of the Tech4ED platform at the City Library.

The signing was spearheaded by the Acting Mayor Cesar Iturralde, NLP Director of the Philippines Atty. Antonio Santos represented by Jilven Amar of the Public Libraries Division Friday morning in City Hall. Witnessing the event was City Librarian Emie Natividad. ICTO Executive Director Louis Napoleon Casambre represented by Dir. Theresa Camba attended the afternoon activity at the City Library located along R.T. Lim Boulevard.

Amar said the Tech4ED forms part of the project dubbed “Aklat Para sa Mamamayan ng Mindanao,” with the intention of addressing the issue on underutilization of public libraries thereby transforming them into a community-based facility. He cited two possible causes of underutilization of libraries as the mismatch in the collection of books with the needs of the people and the absence of internet access in libraries.

“The Zamboanga City library is now an entirely different library as it now practices the open shelf system,” Amar said adding that the library is also now installed with an internet access and television sets for use of clients, who are mostly students.

Tech4ED platform stands for technology for education development which has several concepts among which is the E-Eskwela, an alternative learning system as where undergraduates, out of school youths or those who have not finished high school can access the same and study at their own time and phase and later take the examination in any school accredited by the Department of Education for acceleration to college. Another system included is the E-Government system, a one-stop government portal where persons with disabilities, Overseas Filipino Workers including farmers can access all agencies to include the National Statistics Office, Social Security System and even the Government Service Insurance System.

“This is the first ever to happen in the country. The Tech4ED platform is supposed to be in E-community centers but they realized sometimes it is not a sustainable venue, so this is the first in the Philippines in Zamboanga City where we will have the Tech4ED in the public library itself,” Amar added.

The Zamboanga City library is a pilot library in the Philippines and that the Tech4ED program will be cascaded to all public libraries in the country.

Labor day jobs fair offers local, overseas jobs

(FPG/DIS/PIA9-Zamboanga City with reports from Sheila May Aquino)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 8 (PIA) – Thousands of local and overseas jobs were made available in a jobs fair conducted at the Zamboanga Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (ZamboEcozone) here during the 133th Labor Day celebration last May 1.

Spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-IX in partnership with the Zamboanga Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (ZamboEcozone), the city government and other line agencies, the activity started as early as 7 a.m. with a free ride for the jobseekers from the City Hall to the Ecozone area, some 20 kilometers from the city proper.

Over 25,000 overseas jobs for skilled and professional workers and some 2,000 local jobs are up for grabs, according to a DOLE jobs posting. Local job openings are for canning factories, malls, government offices and others.

Thousands of jobseekers flocked to the jobs fair and they submitted their applications to the representatives of the different companies and overseas agencies.

A private company representative said these companies are going “to examine the candidates’ qualifications and will immediately notify them if they are short-listed.”

During the Labor Day celebration, the Ecozone also opened its facilities, including the pool, zipline, cable car, bowling lane and others to the public for free. However, those who went there were busy with their applications.

The jobseekers also expressed their thanks to the government for holding the jobs fair. “It is a good opportunity to find jobs fast,” said one applicant. But most applicants are requesting that future jobs fair be held at the city proper, as the free rides could only accommodate limited number of people.

Other activities conducted at the Ecozone during the Labor Day were skills demonstration by TESDA scholars, turnover of livelihood starter kits, Diskwento Fairs, raffles, sports competitions and others.

Free confidential HIV testing set in Zambo City


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 7 (PNA) – The City Health Office, in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), has scheduled a five-day free confidential Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-testing in this city.

Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, city health officer, said the HIV-testing, which is scheduled to be held from May 11-15, is in line with the observance of National HIV Testing Week.

Agbulos said interested individuals visit the City Health Office-Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) from 4-7 p.m. from May 11-15 to avail of free confidential HIV-testing.

Agbulos said the National HIV Testing Week precedes the observance of Global AIDS Memorial on May 17.

To maximize the impact of the global movement in the Philippine context, the DOH has declared May 11-15 as HIV testing Week with the overriding goal of informing, de-stigmatizing, de-mystifying and promoting HIV-testing to key population at higher risks for HIV.

The HIV and AIDS epidemic in the country has markedly increased since 2007.

Factors to the rise of cases include low testing rates among key populations at higher risk such as males who have sex with males (MSM) and people who inject drugs (PWID) due to poor self-awareness to risk and HIV services as well as persistence of stigma and discrimination in the society.

UN Habitat conducts workshop for city gov’t department heads in Zambo


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 6 (PNA) -- The United Nations Habitat is conducting a two-day Planned City Extension (PCE) Workshop for this city under the Achieving Sustainable Urban Development (ASUD) Project.

Eng’r. Rodrigo Sicat, city planning and development coordinator, said at least 20 department heads of the city government, representatives and partners are attending the workshop at a local hotel that started Wednesday until Thursday.

Sicat said the workshop aims to orient participants on the UN Habitat’s strategy on sustainable development; highlight the planning principles and approaches of ASUD Project, particularly city extension planning; formulate the conceptual plan of this city’s identified Planned City Extension (PCE) and Planned City InFill (PCI) sites.

Sicat, who was designated as city focal point for the activity, said a team of mappers from UN Habitat Settlements Programme (UNHSP) came to this city last April 27-30 and conducted fieldwork for documentation and planning.

Sicat said the technical assistance being provided by UN Habitat under the PCE project is a welcome input to this city’s overall planning strategy created by virtue of an executive order issued by Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar.

MGB hires geologists to draw geohazard map for Zambo City


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 5 (PNA) -- The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is conducting geohazard mapping of this city.

Vheina Marie Quintana, MGB regional geosciences division officer-in-charge, said Tuesday they have outsourced 10 geologists from Berkman International, Inc. to undertake the geohazard mapping of the city.

Berkman International Inc. provides expertise in the areas of Urban and Regional Planning, Sustainable Development, Governance and Management and Infrastructure and Facilities Planning.

Quintana said the geologists will visit this city’s 98 barangays to identify the geohazard problems of each area.

She said they will come up with a 1:10,000 scale geohazard map on flood and landslide susceptibility to include technical report, recommendations, and remarks on assessed areas.

She said the map can be used as basis for disaster preparedness, urban and rural planning, and protection and preservation of the community.

The map can also be used to educate the residents about the community’s susceptibility to geologic hazards.

In such manner, she said the residents will be aware on what to do to save lives and properties in times of natural disasters.

SPES 2nd batch orientation set May 11

By Sheila Covarrubias

The City Government has scheduled the orientation for the second batch of the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES), composed of 1,270 high school students on May 11 at 8am at the City Coliseum in Tetuan. Work in the local government will begin the same day until the end of the month.

The program, jointly undertaken by the City Government and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under a 60-40 percent sharing agreement, covers a working period of 20 days with assignments in the barangays and selected offices.

The first batch of SPES, consisting of 1,400 college students began employment with the local government April 10 and will end May 8.

The orientation, organized by the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) and the Public Employment Service Office (PESO), will include briefings on their duties and responsibilities as city government employees and expectations of the chief executive and the DOLE.

The speakers will include Mayor Beng Climaco, DOLE-9 director Sisinio Cano, DOLE- City Director Wesley Tan, Social Welfare officer Socorro Rojas and Human Resource and Management Officer Dr. Jane Bascar.

Under the program, the students will receive a salary of P280 per day or a total of P5,600 for the 20-day work period. The students will be assigned to do survey work and community service in the barangays or assist in clerical works in selected city government offices.

The City Government has allocated over P9 million for the SPES program, which is now on its 20th year of implementation in the city.

Job fair held in Zamboanga during Labor Day

By Karel B. Mellanes

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Instead of rallies and demonstrations, the Zamboanga City Freeport and Economic Zone (ZCFEZ) marked Labor Day by holding a job fair that allowed applicants and their families to use its tourism facilities -- including swimming pools and ziplines -- for free. Zamboanga City job fair -- Karel B. Mellanes The May 1 activity “highlighted to our prospective investors that the business in the city is also a family thing,” ZCFEZ administrator Christopher Lawrence Arnuco said.

“Unlike other areas where protests mark their Labor day, here in the city, we are proud to have industrial peace,” said Mr. Arnuco, adding that businesses within the ecozone are “running smoothly” despite the prevailing power and water supply shortage.

At the job fair organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Region 9 office, more than 25,000 positions were vacant for overseas employment and 1,500 in local businesses.

Zamboanga City Labor Employment Officer Wesley D. Tan said 20% of the 852 registered job applicants were hired on the spot and more than 400 have been scheduled for further interview.

DoLE Regional Director Sinsinio B. Cano, for his part, said they “strategize to hire at least 15% of the applicants.”

During the job fair, a discount market and livelihood fair were also held where starter kits for small businesses were distributed. These starter kits were for carpentry, dress making, welding, vulcanizing, cooking, and native food were distributed.

“We have 42 informal sector beneficiaries... the initial turn over was last April 28,” Mr. Tan said.

Similar activities were also held in other parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula Regionsuch as Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, Pagadian, and Dapitan.

Two-day CAEXPO promotional conference slated in Zamboanga City


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 2 (PNA) - The City Investment Promotion Services (CIPS) will hold a two-day 12th CAEXPO promotional conference in this city on May 7-8, 2015 at the Centro Latino Convention Hall in Paseo del Mar, this city.

Marie Angelique Go, CIPS chief, said this city, being chosen as the City of Charm for the 12th CAEXPO that would be held at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICEC), Nanning, Guangxi, People’s Republic of China, was already preparing for the selected exhibitors that would highlight the champion products of the city.

Go said the promotional conference would be an open trade fair with trainings on pricing, costing, nutrifacts and license to operate.

She said the promotional conference would be held in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Zamboecozone).She said the booths for the trade fair were for free and interested participants could get their application forms at the DTI Office, second floor of Land Bank of the Philippines, Veterans Avenue Branch.

She said the delegates who want to participate in conference can register at the CIPS and look for Chalie Molina and Mila Cortez for assistance.

1,200 children join Zambo’s Basic Sports Program Summer Camp


ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 1 (PNA) – At least 1,200 children five to 15 years old have for this year’s Basic Sports Summer Camp in this city.

Councilor Roel Natividad led the opening Thursday of the summer camp dubbed as “Learn to Play a Sport Program” at the Mayor Vitaliano D. Agan Coliseum.

Dr. Cecilia Atilano, city sports development officer, said the month-long program covers 25 sports disciplines and is offered to school-aged children for free.

Atilano said they have designated various venues for the different sports events since the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex is not available for use.

The sports complex still houses thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were affected by the 21-day September 2013 siege.

The Learn to Play a Sport program has produced top-notched Zamboangueño athletes who have gone to compete in national and international competitions.

The program is now on its 20th year.

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