Iloilo City News September 2018

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Group donates 2 firetrucks to Iloilo City

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Iloilo City received two firefighting pump cars from the Africa Asia Development Relief Foundation (ADRF), a non-governmental organization that implements various projects to support local communities in selected countries.

The Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) on Tuesday authorized Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III to sign a deed of donation on behalf of the city government with the ADRF represented by its chairman, Kwon Yi Jong.

Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo, whose committee reviewed the documents for the proposed donation, said the firetrucks are intended to enhance the capabilities of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in times of disasters and calamities.

“The donation of firetrucks will not only help in the safety of our school children but the whole of Iloilo City,” he added.

Just several months ago, Iloilo City was also a recipient of a firetruck under BFP's modernization plan.

Meanwhile, the city government on Monday turned over to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) two patrol cars to boost its personnel's mobility.

The donations were just two of the 11 units that were committed by the city government to augment the local police's anti-criminality campaign, particularly against illegal drugs.

Senior Supt. Martin Defensor Jr., ICPO director, received the police cars after the flag-raising ceremony held at the Iloilo City Hall.

Iloilo City eyes P2.3-B budget in 2019

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here is eyeing a PHP2.319-billion budget in 2019, a slight increase than its PHP2.212-billion budget this year.

The proposed budget is now at the office of Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo, chair of the committee on appropriations of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council), for perusal and has yet to be submitted to the council for deliberation.

“We have just received it two days ago. I think we will start (deliberation) on Oct. 8,” Peñaredondo said.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III, in his transmittal message, said more than 56.2 percent of the fund will be sourced from the local taxes, equivalent to PHP1.303 billion; and 43.4 percent from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), worth PHP1.005 billion. Some PHP10 million or 4 percent was attributed to the city government’s share in the economic zone.

Under his administration, Espinosa said general services were given the chunk of the budget with 51.3 percent; social services, 32.2 percent; and economic services, 16.5 percent. Of the total budget, personnel services got 34.5 percent, equivalent to PHP799.332 million; Miscellaneous and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), 29.4 percent or PHP683.10 million; special purpose appropriation, PHP812.133 million; and capital outlay with only PHP24 million.

On the other hand, the Local Economic Enterprise Office is targeting a PHP77.172 million, 2.7 percent higher than this year’s PHP75.138 million.

“There is only so much we can do for our community in a year but what is important is that our people will be able (to see) tangible changes in our government,” Espinosa said.

Meanwhile, Peñaredondo assured that the budget deliberations would not be affected by the political affiliations of the members of the local council.

“There is no question to the budget,” he assured.

Western Visayas aims to welcome 300K Chinese tourists in 2019

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Western Visayas is hoping to get a chunk of the around 1.5 million Chinese tourists expected to visit the Philippines next year.

Lawyer Helen J. Catalbas, in an interview Monday, said Western Visayas has natural attractions, seafood and branded shopping places to entice Chinese tourists.

The target, according to her, is around 300,000 Chinese tourists from the current 100,000 visitors.

As part of preparations, Catalbas said they have embarked on a Chinese Mandarin language training for tour guides in Aklan and Boracay.

“They have the most number of Chinese tourists. It will be followed by Iloilo and Bacolod,” she said.

Western Visayas currently has 35 accredited tour guides.

Catalbas also confirmed that there were talks of opening direct flights from China to Western Visayas.

“We have already been talking to several charterers, wholesale tour operators to charter flights from Guangzhou and Xiamen because these are nearer the Philippines,” she revealed.

With the closure of Boracay Island for six months, the Department of Tourism is eyeing to have 5.2 million tourist arrivals by the end of the year, a bit lower when compared with the 5.8 million in 2017.

She clarified that the region is “sticking to its original target” because last year, it exceeded its 5.1 million target arrivals.

From January to June this year, Catalbas said around 3 million tourists have already set foot in Western Visayas.

166K indigent elderly in West Visayas get one-time cash grant

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The national government’s one-time cash grant has already benefited some 166, 520 indigent senior citizens in Western Visayas, data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here showed.

The department has spent PHP399.6 million so far for the cash grant to the beneficiaries, Judith Tanate, focal person for Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons of DSWD 6 (Western Visayas), said in an interview Friday.

DSWD-6 began distributing the cash grants to its beneficiaries last July 25.

The grant is a tax subsidy provided under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law to help the poor cope with the rising prices of commodities.

Each qualified beneficiary is entitled to receive PHP2,400 a year or PHP200 per month. The national government is targeting to implement the unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program until 2020.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the PHP399.6 million went to 75,339 beneficiaries in Iloilo province, which amounted to PHP180.8 million.

Aklan province has PHP57.2 million for 23,839 beneficiaries; Capiz, PHP50.2 million for 20,957 beneficiaries; Antique, PHP48.8 million for 20,335 beneficiaries; Negros Occidental, PHP45.8 million for 19,093 beneficiaries; and Guimaras, PHP16.9 million for 6,957 beneficiaries.

Tanate said the 166,520 beneficiaries who received their cash grant were part of the 189,904 qualified senior citizens in the region.

She said that they are still waiting for their central office to release the remaining cash grants of more than 23,000 beneficiaries from 24 cities and towns in the different parts of the region.

Some 7,944 senior citizens in Iloilo City and 1,547 senior citizens in Bacolod City have yet to receive their cash grant.

“We are hoping that by the end of September, we will be able to release their cash grants,” she said. Tanate said the program has been a big help to indigent senior citizens in the region, especially in buying their medicines and basic needs.

“After they receive their money, most of them immediately go to the drugstore and grocery store to buy their needs,” she said. Related Stories

DTI consults Ilonggos on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ IRR

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its Competitiveness Bureau, on Friday gathered stakeholders here for a day of consultation on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act.

Iloilo was the last stop for the series of consultations in the Visayas that began in Leyte last Sept. 19 and followed by Cebu on Sept. 20, said DTI Regional Director Rebeca Rascon.

“We would like to consult the public sector with licensing functions,” Rascon said, adding that the law seeks to “streamline the procedures as we continue to deliver front-line services to our public clients.”

“What is good with the consultation is that there are points that need to be improved. It is just a draft and all inputs that they gather will be incorporated in the draft IRR,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mary Lou A. Gesilva, Assistant Director of the Competitiveness Bureau, said “the law strictly talks about re-engineering of systems so that we can make all these businesses easier and faster and hassle-free for all transacting public.”

“If we do that, of course that would mean improved business opportunities, business climate, more employment opportunities,” she added.

The new law “involves business-related and non-business-related transaction and not limited to permits (of mayors) but also include other frontline services.”

“The law provides for provisions that would improve ease of doing business in the country and improve the way we do things in government,” she said.

In line with this, she mentioned the need for government agencies to revisit their Citizens Charter that was crafted under the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.

She reminded that President Rodrigo Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address (SONA), mandated all government agencies to start “re-engineering”, which means “the shorter, the simpler the process, the better for business.”

She said the law has been in effect since June 17. As such, the transacting public can now file complaints before the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), care of the Competitiveness Bureau. The ARTA office is still being setup.

The law provides a two-strike policy, where the first proven violation would result in a six-month suspension and the second offense means imprisonment, a fine of PHP500,000 to PHP2 million, forfeiture of benefits, and perpetual disqualification from public service of persons involved.

Rascon said transactions in government under the law have been classified into simple, complex and highly-technical.

For simple transactions, the concerned government agency has three days to release the documents; seven days for complex transactions; and a maximum of 20 days for highly technical transactions.

Highly-technical transactions are those that need consultants or have to go through the procurement process as required, while complex transactions refer to those that require an applicant to secure licenses from other government offices prior to the issuance of their document.

Gesilva said during the consultations, there would be questions on the possible transition period for agencies to comply with the law.

“It is not yet cast in stone but there are suggestions to have at least six months to one year for them to review their processes,” she said.

The IRR is expected to be finalized by October 22.

‘Tumandok’ showcases Iloilo's attractions, products and culture

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Various attractions, products and the culture of the province of Iloilo are on display at the four-day travel and product fair organized by the provincial government here through its tourism office.

Now on its 14th year, “Tumandok”, Hiligaynon for “native”, is an annual event and is part of the celebration of the tourism month held every September, Gilbert “Bombet” Marin, head of the Provincial Culture, Arts, History and Tourism Office, said in an interview Friday.

The event kicked off on Wednesday through a cultural performance of the West Visayas State University (WVSU) College of PESCAR (Physical Education, Sports, Culture, Arts and Recreation).

A total of 19 booths representing the participating towns of the province were set up. Each booth showcases the products and tourist destinations of the participating local government units.

The participating towns and city are Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, Igbaras, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, Leon, Pavia, Leganes, Sta. Barbara, Cabatuan, Badiangan, Calinog, Duenas, Passi City, San Enrique, Concepcion, Estancia, and Carles.

As much as they want to invite all of the 42 towns and one component city of the province, Marin said the venue cannot accommodate them all.

On exhibit are delicacies, hand-made products, organic fruits and vegetables, dried fish and other seafood, and tourist spots found in their area.

There are also cultural presentations and performances of local festivals scheduled until the last day of the event on September 23.

Marin said their celebration is different from among other areas in the country because they are utilizing students to promote different attractions and destinations in Iloilo province.

This year, students of the Hotel and Restaurant Technology Department of the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U), La Paz Campus, Iloilo City joined the event.

“We really want the students to become front-liners in promoting our local destinations,” he said, adding that they are from universities in the city area and most of the time.

The students are grouped and given a municipality to adopt so they experience what normal tourism officers do when they go out on field, he said.

Since the start of the fair back in 2004, Marin said almost all public and private universities in this city have taken part.

Garin said the annual event really helped the locals in the province.

“We receive a lot of inquiries about local attractions on how to get there and through marketing and featuring their products. Locals who have backyard industries were given the opportunity to be recognized by some hotels because some of them are now ordering their products, like fruit juices and fresh vegetables,” he said.

Marin said he hopes they would be able to accommodate all towns and city of the province in their future fairs so they would have the opportunity to showcase their attractions, culture and products.

125 college students get scholarship from Iloilo prov’l gov’t

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- A total of 125 college students are the new recipients of “Iskolar sang Iloilo” (Iloilo scholars) program of the provincial government.

They are the latest batch of scholars of the province since the implementation of the K to 12 program, said Alma Ravena, head of the Human Resource Management and Development Office.

Ravena presented the new scholars to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. in a courtesy call at the Capitol on Thursday.

Each of the five districts of the province was allotted 25 scholars. They are enrolled in the various state colleges and universities in Iloilo City and in the province taking various courses related to education, computer, engineering and agriculture, among others.

Despite the free college education implemented by the national government, which provides free tuition for students, Ravena said they have decided to continue the program to provide the recipients financial assistance for their other needs.

From the previous PHP2,800 monthly stipend, scholars are now entitled to PHP3,500.

“This was also deliberated exhaustively by the scholarship board and this is based on the current economic situation,” she said in an interview.

Each scholar will also receive PHP2,000 book allowance per semester and PHP1,000 for their uniform per school year.

Ravena said the scholars just need to maintain general weight average of 2.5 and no grade lower than 3.0 to maintain their scholarship.

“Based on our track record, they can maintain higher than that,” she said.

The “Iskolar sang Iloilo” started last 1995 with only five scholars from each district of the province.

Since then, the number of the recipients continues to increase, with some getting academic honors.

Just this latest end of school year, one of the 97 scholars who graduated earned the highest honor or summa cum laude. There are also six magna cum laude and 18 cum laude graduates.

One of the scholars, Melissa Suganob of Cabatuan,Iloilo, ranked 4th in the September 2018 Forester Licensure Examination. She graduated magna cum laude in her degree of Bachelor of Science in Forestry at West Visayas State University-College of Agriculture and Forestry in Lambunao,Iloilo.

Some of the graduate scholars are currently employed with the provincial government.

One of the recipients of the scholarship is Carmela Francesca Adelantar of Janiuay, Iloilo, a freshman at West Visayas State University-Main Campus taking up Bachelor of Special Needs Education.

“I expect to maintain my grades and serve in the province of Iloilo as a teacher after four years,” she said.

BFAR inaugurates P5-M building, awards post-harvest facilities

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) inaugurated its PHP5-million provincial office building and released post-harvest facilities to target farmer’s associations to kick off the regional celebration of the Fish Conservation Week, Tuesday.

The two-storey building was built inside the compound of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) complex in Barangay Tanza, this city.

In an interview, BFAR Regional Director Remia A. Aparri said that the provincial fishery office will house their technical staff for Iloilo.

“This is significant because there will be a venue where Ilonggo fisherfolks can coordinate and discuss matters related to fisheries,” she said.

She assured that the regional office of the BFAR “is still there that will support the provincial level, especially at the local government units”.

Following the inauguration, BFAR also released post-harvest kits to fisherfolk associations in the coastal towns of Ajuy, Banate, Barotac Nuevo, Carles, San Dionisio, San Joaquin and Tigbauan.

Each of the recipient fisherfolk association received five units of 70-liter capacity insulated box; five units of 10-kilogram capacity weighing scale and 15 units of 75-liter capacity, molded plastic round banyera.

Iloilo City was also a recipient of 10 units of fish stalls.

Proclamation No. 316 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 declared September of every year as Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month and likewise transferred the observance of the Fish Conservation Week from the third week of October to the third week of September.

Support available to LGUs on management of municipal waters: BFAR

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is ready to support local government units (LGUs) located in coastal areas with technical assistance and capacity building for them to deliver what are expected of them.

In an interview Monday, BFAR Regional Director Remia Aparri said LGUs are faced with the challenge of “managing the municipal waters that is within their jurisdiction”.

She lauded the responses of LGUs in terms of protecting their jurisdiction, attributing this to BFAR’s flagship advocacy program “Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan”.

“It is an award as offshoot for managing their municipal waters,” she said.

Winners at the national level receive an incentive of PHP30 million worth of fishery projects; PHP18 million for the second placers and PHP12 million for the third placers.

Meanwhile, in the regional level, the first placer receives PHP2 million; second placer, PHP1 million and the third placer gets PHP500,000 worth of fishery projects.

Aparri said coastal LGUs also need to improve post-harvest component, support facilities, sustainable management, and law enforcement activities.

One prominent support that is being extended by the BFAR is the community fish landing center (CFLC) which the agency managed to put up in Western Visayas.

The CFLC serves as “landing center for the catch of municipal fishers so we can consolidate, account and monitor the status of the fishery,” Aparri said.

She added that CFLC also ensures the quality of fish through post-harvest, processing and practices that are being introduced to participants; develops value adding to fishery products; and serves as training hub for any activity of the LGU and the fisherfolk.

Aparri said the observance of the 55th Fishery Conservation Week this September 17-21 is a call on LGUs on the proper management of their waters.

“This is more on the management, protection of municipal waters, which will support the fishing industry of our country,” she said.

This year’s celebration anchors on the theme “Kapag Karagatan ng Munisipal ay Inaalagaan, Sasagana ang Yamang-Dagat ng Buong Sambayanan”.

One of the highlights of the week-long celebration is the inauguration of the Iloilo provincial office of BFAR at the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) compound, seafood trade fair and exhibit, mangrove planting and recognition of BFAR partners, among others.

Iloilo City creates 24/7 quick response team

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here is ready to respond to complaints and other concerns of the residents through its quick response team that will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

On Monday, Mayor Jose Espinosa said he will soon sign the executive order creating the quick response team. After the flag-raising ceremony held at the Plaza Libertad, city hall employees witnessed the blessing of two quick response patrol vehicles to be utilized for the program.

Espinosa said when the other city hall departments are no longer operational after office hours, the quick response team will be there to respond to such cases as traffic violations.

Also, if there are immediate concerns that city residents would like to bring to the attention of the city government, the team will be there, he added.

Initially, Jeck Conlu of the Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) and Roberto Domanil of the Task Force Anti-Squatting and Illegal Structure (ASIS) will head the composite team.

There will also be representatives from the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), City Health Office (CHO) and the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).

“Probably, we will be the first local government unit to have this 24-hour quick response team to show to everyone that the city government operates 24/7,” Espinosa said.

DOT eyes Iloilo City as cruise ship hub

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Some 600 Japanese tourists and crew on board a cruise ship will arrive in this city in January next year to witness Iloilo’s annual Dinagyang Festival.

“It will be a start. We are looking at Iloilo City as another cruise ship hub,” lawyer Helen J. Catalbas, director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) 6 (Western Visayas), said on Friday.

They will be on board M/V Pacific Venus from Japan, Catalbas said, adding that she has requested to reserve some 400 tickets at the Freedom Grandstand.

The visit, she said, is very important, considering that the standard of Japanese tourists is very high.

“We have met that standard already,” she said, noting that they came to inspect the facilities in Iloilo City, such as banks, hospitals, hotels and shopping centers.

“They were impressed. That’s why they decided to push through with the cruise ship arrival in January. And I hope after that, it’s not only during Dinagyang,” Catalbas added.

The 2019 Iloilo Dinagyang Festival will be held on January 25-27. It is held annually in honor of Sto. Niño, as it traces the history of Filipinos’ devotion to the Holy Child Jesus.

As part of preparations for next year’s festival, the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI) initiated a two-part conference on the Iloilo Dinagyang Rhythm and Vibes.

The first part of the conference that tackled Dinagyang music and choreography was held last Sept. 9-12, while the second part that will focus on costume and props design, visual production and resource management will be held on September 26.

DENR launches ‘Tayo ang Kalikasan’ advocacy program in Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has appealed for the participation of people’s organizations (POs) to become stewards of th eenvironment and not just leave the burden to the government.

Cimatu made the call in his message delivered by Undersecretary Rodolfo C. Garcia during the launch of the Visayas cluster of “Tayo Ang Kalikasan”, a program for restoration, rehabilitation and development (PRRDP), in this city on Thursday.

“We cannot and should not place the burden on the government alone, considering the government’s limited resources. Communities -- given the means -- are in the best position to act immediately and respond to local needs,” he said.

He said the “Tayo Ang Kalikasan” is the “product of the faith in our people.”

“I personally believe that our people are capable of change for the better, if not the best. I believe that from being part of the problem, our people can become the solution. I believe too that people care for clean air, clean water, healthy habitat and a productive environment,” he added.

He cited the impact of the more than 21 million population of the three regions of Visayas should they “move together with unity of mission and vision.”

During the ceremony, officers of various POs made their pledge of commitment to support the program. Participants also affixed their signatures to the Commitment Wall.

“We bank on our POs because they are our strength,” said Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Livino B. Duran, in an interview.

The first to heed the call was the PO from Guimaras whose officers took their oath of office during the program. Youth representatives were also presented with seedlings as part of the ceremony.

“The seedling distribution was part of the TAK launch, which encourages youth participation to help protect, conserve and rehabilitate the environment,” Duran said.

The advocacy program he said covers several areas and their actions will depend on the area where they are located. Among their steps are to embark on information and education campaign, implement eco-friendly programs and projects, among others.

DENR eyes coffee as livelihood for POs in W. Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas is looking at making coffee as a primary livelihood commodity for peoples' organizations (PO) in the region.

DENR Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Livino B. Duran, in an interview here on Thursday, said their discussion was “more aligned on how to improve production, post-harvest, processing and marketing.”

They will be identifying areas to increase production and talk to companies to assist in the processing of products.

“We will look into how to access investments to help our people’s organizations in terms of their development,” he said as he graced the Visayas-wide Peoples' Organization Summit.

He said a company is interested to assist in the processing should Panay Island can have at least 20,000 hectares of coffee plantations.

“We would like to bring Nestle to Panay. So if there is an available 20,000 hectares, then we are assured of market,” he said.

Aside from coffee, other products are fuel wood, fire wood and timber.

The POs are organizations that are “directly involved” in the implementation of DENR programs such as community-based forest management program (CBFMP, national greening program (NGP), forest management program (FMP) and coastal resource management areas, among others.

The summit also served as venue for POs to learn lessons while in the process of implementing programs and share best practices from various projects throughout Western Visayas, he said.

The event gathered around 700 participants from Central, Western and Eastern Visayas regions.

The summit has for its theme "Peoples' Organization: Environmental Synergy Amidst Project Diversity; Linking People to Market Opportunities".

During the occasion, the DENR also awarded environmental citations to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., the Katilingban sang Pumuluyo na naga Atipan sa Watershed (KAPAWA-Maasin), and the Tangalan Indigenous Peoples’ Organization and Province of Guimaras for their initiatives in support to DENR programs.

West Visayas bizmen bullish in Q4

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Business expectation in Western Visayas is bullish for the last quarter of the year, a lift from the less positive outlook this third quarter of 2018.

Marriel M. Remulla, Deputy Director of the Department of Economic Statistics of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said the less positive outlook was attributed to the decrease in demand, higher operational expenses, presence of new competitors, and increase in minimum wage that took effect in July.

The bullish outlook was the result of the business expectation survey (BES) being held quarterly among 1,466 companies, taken from the top 7,000 corporations listed in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2010 and top 1,000 corporations of the Business World in 2016.

The result was presented to stakeholders during the 2018 Awards and Appreciation Ceremony for stakeholders held in this city on Tuesday.

“Business sentiment across all regions (Western, Central and Eastern) in the Visayas remains positive (for the Q4, although) a bit lower in Q3 2018,” she said in her presentation of the development indicators in Visayas.

On the other hand, the employment outlook index for the last quarter of the year “remains favorable” in Western Visayas.

“This indicates that more firms will hire more employees in the remaining of the year likewise expansion plans remains positive across all regions,” she added.

In terms of expectations on exchange, inflation and interest rates, Western Visayas expects the inflation and interest rates to go up for the third and last quarters, while peso rate depreciated in the third quarter and is forecast to appreciate in the fourth quarter.

“Increasing financial resources support sustained economic growth in Visayas from 2018 but efforts focused on job creation, provision of more loans could help accelerate economic growth and improve the living conditions of the jobless and small businesses,” she added.

P400K grand prize awaits champion of Iloilo mural competition

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The provincial government is now accepting entries from Ilonggo artists who want to join the first ever mural competition in Iloilo.

A grand prize of PHP400,000 will be given to the champion, Provincial Board Member Demy Sonza, co-chairman of the committee for the mural design competition, said in an interview Tuesday.

Themed “Ilonggo Culture and Heritage”, the mural design competition aims to boost tourism through the field of arts as it will serve as the centerpiece of the Capitol grounds, which is currently undergoing improvements.

It is open to all Ilonggo artists of any age, either individual or a group, Sonza said.

He added, however, that all elected officials and heads of offices, including their relatives up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity, are prohibited from participating in the competition.

“The rich heritage and culture of Iloilo should be depicted on the mural design. We will accept entries until Sept. 28,” Sonza said.

Interested participants must submit a colored presentation of their mural design using a full size illustration board to the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at the Capitol.

All submitted designs will undergo preliminary screening by a distinguished panel of judges.

Judging will be based on concept, originality, creativity and visual execution.

Five entries will be shortlisted and one will be declared as champion. The four other finalists will receive consolation prizes worth PHP25,000 each.

The champion will execute the winning design on a 2-meter by 15-meter wall at the Capitol grounds.

BSP honors 15 stakeholders in Western Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) honored 15 partners in Western Visayas during its 2018 awards and appreciation ceremony held in this city on Tuesday.

“Through your contributions of comprehensive information and advocacies, the BSP is able to formulate monetary and financial policies to fulfill its mandates of helping and maintaining price stability, promote financial stability and maintaining a safe and efficient payment, checks and balances,” said Monetary Board Member Antonio S. Abacan, Jr, in his keynote address.

The 15 awardees were part of the 164 partners recognized by the BSP this year.

Of the 15 awardees, three were from the information category and 12 for the advocacy support category, specifically eight for the various currency programs of the BSP; three for implementing BSP advocacy on the conduct of public information campaign and one for the Knowledge Resource Network (KRN).

The awardees for the information support were Waffle Time Inc., as outstanding respondent among large and medium firms; Navstar Gasoline Station (Total), outstanding respondent for small firms; and the Department of Tourism (DOT), outstanding partner for report on regional economic developments in the Philippines.

For the currency programs, the outstanding regional partners for the clean note policy were Iloilo Supermart and Banco de Oro Unibank Inc. Cash Hub Center; outstanding regional partner for coin recirculation were Cabugao Norte Elementary School in Pavia, Iloilo, Happyville Academy in Capiz and Eagle Scouts of the Philippines –Bacolod City Council of Boy Scouts of the Philippines; and outstanding regional partner for demonetization of the New Design Series were Robinsons Place Iloilo, Robinsons Place Roxas and City Sectoral Office –Office of the Mayor, Bacolod City.

For implementing the BSP advocacy on the conduct of public information campaign, the awardees were the West Visayas State University-College of Business and Management, Hercor College High School Department and the Department of Social Welfare and Development –Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Bacolod City.

The Central Philippine University Library was awarded as outstanding regional partner for KRN.

The awardees received the “Dynamic Balance, Philippine Eagle Trophy”.

Meantime, the West Visayas State University-College of Business and Management received an additional “Soaring to Greater Heights” trophy as a Hall of Fame Awardee for winning the same category for three straight years.

This year’s ceremony has for its theme “Reinforcing Partnerships, Defining New Challenges”.

Deputy Governor for Financial Supervision Sector Chuchi G. Fonacier said that the “invaluable information and support that you provide the BSP enables us to formulate timely and appropriate policies to address monetary and financial imbalance.”

Meanwhile, Regional Director Helen Catalbas said that the award is a confirmation of what they have been doing at the DOT.

“We hope our colleagues in the Department of Tourism and private sector stakeholder will be inspired by this and local government units that we are working with all throughout the year will look up to this award as not only for DOT but symbol of cooperation by industry partners,” she said.

She said their statistics are “useful to banks, financial institutions, project proponents and those who would like to request for loans from the commercial and government banks”.

“They use our statistics to justify, to give substance to their feasibility studies. Without the statistics their ventures, shall I say, are not based on solid ground,” she said.

Iloilo City bags literacy award

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- This city was recognized as the country’s third best in the 2018 National Literacy Conference and Awards for local government units (LGU) highly urbanized category held in Baguio City last week.

In an interview after the regular Monday flag raising ceremony, Mayor Jose Espinosa III said it was the first time for Iloilo City to vie for the award given by the Department of Education (DeEd) and it was able to grab the third spot.

He expressed gratefulness to teachers who were behind the city’s success in garnering the award. “We owe this to our teachers,” he said.

Based on data provided by the Iloilo City public information office, this highly urbanized city had a 98.2 percent literacy rate during the last literacy mapping.

In its 2013-2019 Comprehensive Development Plan under the Social Development Sector, it outlined to “promote access to quality education for all”.

Among its major programs are the Iloilo City Alternative System (ALS), Technical Institute of Iloilo City (TIIC), Iloilo City Community College (ICC) and the KAhublagan sa BArangay para sa LApnagon nga Kahandaan (KABALAKA), which translates to Movement for Community-Based Disaster Preparedness. Kabalaka means “to care.”

The ALS program has recorded 12,100 enrolled elementary and secondary students since 2014, posting the highest performance rating in Western Visayas.

Based on data from the Division of Iloilo City, there were 680 passers of ALS Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test in 2016; 688 passers in 2015; and 383 passers in 2014.

In January this year, the ALS at the Iloilo City District Jail- Male Dorm (ICDJ-MD) of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) produced 71 graduates.

On the other hand, the TIIC Molo campus has produced 1,141 technical-vocational graduates from 2014 to March 2018.

The TIIC Bo. Obrero Campus in Lapuz District has produced 4,663 graduates from 2011 to 2017 in various fields such as baking, cooking, wine mixing, beauty care, food processing, massage, housekeeping, and computer literacy, among others.

The Iloilo City Community College has produced 1,480 graduates of Bachelor of Science in Travel Management, and Bachelor of Science in Office Administration since it started in 2012, to date.

KABALAKA, the program of the city government in terms of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) that aims to introduce DRRM literacy to the grassroots, was able to reach out to 23 public elementary schools, one private elementary school, five universities, and 33 barangays.

Its gallery containing information and exhibit center boasts of 17 education materials developed by local artists. It also holds advocacy brochures, flyers and interactive exhibits on environment and disaster preparedness.

Over 400 job seekers flock at gov't job fair in Iloilo City

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY - - More than 400 jobseekers flocked to the first ever ‘Government Job Fair’ conducted by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in Western Visayas.

The two-day job fair, which opened Friday afternoon, offers around 200-300 vacant positions from the 16 participating regional line agencies according to Leo Jamorin, Chief Human Resource Specialist CSC 6’s Public Assistance and Liaison Division in n interview Saturday.

Ninety-five percent of the vacant positions are plantilla or permanent positions and the remaining are contract of service and job order positions, Jamorin said.

Held at SM City Iloilo, the job fair was among the highlights of the 118th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary here.

“We want to provide transparent and open job vacancies from the government agencies because most people are not aware of the job posting of the government,” he said,

“This is another way of providing opportunity to those who are interested to become public servants because last year we already started to publish vacant positions in the various government agencies through our website (csc.gov.ph),” he added.

Jobseekers are only given until today to apply for the vacant positions. The more than 400 jobseekers recorded is as of 2:00 p.m.

“Government agencies will accept applications until the closing time of the mall which is 9:00 p.m,” Jamorin said.

Among the participating agencies in the two-day job fair are the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Department of Education , the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Labor and Employment , and the National Commission for Indigenous People, among others.

Jamorin said that more than 100 vacant positions are under the DepEd and most of these are positions for teachers.

Since the government is following a procedure in the hiring of personnel, Jamorin said that applicants should expect that no one will be hired-on-the spot and follow-up interviews will be conducted after the job fair.

“The job fair is more on accepting the applications of the jobseekers and evaluating them,” he said. Jamorin noted that the job fair has “very positive” response so far from the jobseekers.

"We hoped that we will be able to conduct another government job fair to give chance to more jobseekers,” he said. Meantime, Jamorin also noted the successful conduct of the “Government Express at the Mall” last September 3-6.

He said that about 21 agencies joined the event, “bringing the frontline service closer to the public.”

Western Visayas gov’t employees get CSC awards

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – Two individuals and one team of government employees from Western Visayas are recipients of national awards presented by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) under its Honor Awards Program (HAP).

Senior Insp. Marie Charyll Jamolo, Chief of the Health Service Unit of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) 6 (Western Visayas); Annabelle Alipo-on, Principal II of the Payao Elementary School in Negros Occidental; and the team of the Botanical Dewormer of the Capiz State University - Dumarao Satellite College, represented by its leader Bebe Ozaraga and member Ma. Sylvia Ozaraga, will receive their awards in Malacañang Palace on September 19.

The national winners were among the outstanding employees chosen by CSC-Western Visayas as regional winners, particularly under the CSC Pagasa category held in this city Thursday afternoon.

CSC Commissioner Leopoldo Roberto Valderosa Jr., who led the awarding of the regional winners, said the recognition given to some government employees is “not the end of everything.”

“It is a challenge for them to do good, just like what the President is saying that the value of compassion should always be there. The President wants us to have a compassionate society that the government should provide public service that the people need,” he said.

Other regional winners of the HAP are Renante Decena, Provincial Veterinarian of Negros Occidental; and Riggi Lachica, Principal 3 of the Vista Alegre-Granada Relocation Elementary School in Bacolod City (Presidential Lingkod Bayan category);

Eleanore Dagala, Principal 3 of Bugasong Central School in Antique; Iñigo Garingalao, Community Affairs Officer 2I of the Iloilo City government; Erick John de Lemos, Police Officer 2 of the Kalibo Police Station; and Mary Catherine Demontaño, Police Officer 3 of the Regional Strategy Management Unit of Police Regional Office 6 (Dangal ng Bayan);

Lynette Aggabao, Head Teacher 1 of Cabangan Primary School in Capiz; Ronnel Tumonong, Head Teacher 3 of Yubo Elementary School in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental; Imee Lopera, Inspector of the Iloilo City District Jail-Female Dorm; and Rita Magbiray, team leader of the Some Free Ibajay group in Aklan (Pagasa category).

In an interview, Jamolo, one of the national winners, emotionally said that it has always been her desire to become a public servant to help those who are in need.

“I hope I will be an inspiration to my fellow public servants,” Jamolo said.

One of Jamolo’s programs, called “ACHIEVERS”, provides female inmates with regular medical exams and checking of their health record.

She said they are also active in their TV program, which campaigns against smoking, especially among the youth, and organizes a fun-run for the benefit of female inmates.

“I am doing all of that, not because of the award but because it (award) is already here, I am very thankful,” she said.

WV hosts Philippine Travel Exchange tour

By Leonard T. Pineda I (JBG/DOT6/LTP/PIA-Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY (PIA) – The Department of Tourism (DOT)-6 welcomed 41 international buyers for the Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) Post Tour.

PHITEX is a government-organized travel trade event in the country, which hosts international buyers to participate in tabletop business appointments with accredited Philippine tourism suppliers.

DOT-6 regional director Helen Catalbas said the PHITEX Post Tour, which kicked off August 31 until September 4, 2018, was conducted by the Tourism Promotions Board and DOT-6 in partnership with the local government units of Iloilo, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental.

“It's always a pleasure for DOT Region VI to showcase to these international buyers the tourist destinations of Region VI, but having a positive feedback from them is so overwhelming,” she said.

Catalbas said the tour of these international buyers included numerous attractions and destinations in Iloilo including the Garin Farm in San Joaquin, the historic Miag-ao Church, and the grand Hispanic mansions and old ancestral houses in Iloilo City.

In Negros Occidental, the participants’ itinerary comprised of visits to “The Ruins”, Locsin Ancestral House, Balay ni Tana Dicang and San Diego Cathedral.

The DOT official also said that the participants also visited the island-province of Guimaras, the home of the sweetest mangoes.

She added that the PHITEX Post Tour for international buyers is a mechanism to gain investments for the tourism industry in Region 6.

DENR, LGU to launch ‘Throw your Straw’ campaign

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is partnering with the city government here for its “Throw your Straw” campaign to be launched next month.

“This is being authored by the DENR,” said Engr. Noel Hechanova, head of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

The campaign seeks to raise public awareness on the danger of plastic straw to the environment and promote the use of alternative types of drinking straw.

Hechanova said Iloilo City has an ordinance banning the use of non-biodegradable plastic but the straw was not included. The ordinance, he said, was only against packaging.

However, when you collect the straws, they might reach up to tons. This has huge impact in terms of garbage, clogging up of drainage and they also end up in the landfill, he said.

“We promote the use of glass, why use straw. If they have personal drinking straw, that is supposed to be promoted,” Hechanova said.

Among those that are being eyed as alternative are bamboo straw, paper straw, glass straw, metal straw and or no straw at all.

The campaign targets restaurant goers and restaurant owners, he added.

“We have so much to learn before enacting the law,” he said as the city’s Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP/city council) is planning to enact an ordinance that regulates the use of plastic straw and stirrers.

The grand launching is proposed to be held at the Casa Real in this city next month.

Iloilo City eyes business one-stop-shop for permit applications

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- This highly urbanized city is now working on the physical setup of its business one-stop-shop (BOSS) to become compliant with Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

In an interview Tuesday, Business Process Licensing Office (BPLO) head Norman Tabud said the law mandates local government units (LGUs) to establish a BOSS for applicants of building permit, certificate of occupancy and business permit.

It also prescribes the number of steps and days that should be complied with for the documents to be released.

“Otherwise the office will be held liable under the law,” Tabud added.

Tabud said LGUs are given three years to comply since the law took effect July this year.

He clarified that the city government has no problem when it comes to the registration stage because the business permit can be issued in 30 to 45 minutes once the documents are complete.

The problem occurs during the pre-registration stage where the client has to apply for registration, either at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), fire safety inspection certificate from the Bureau of Fire Protection and building and occupancy permits from the City Engineers Office.

“What we are working on is the pre-registration stage. This is where we plan to have a one-stop-shop,” he said.

Republic Act 11032 mandates that documents for simple transactions must be released in three days and seven days for complex transactions. For those that need highly-technical decisions, the period required is not more than 20 days.

The law, he said, observes as two-strike policy. On the first offense, the person liable shall be meted with a 60-day suspension while the second offense carries a penalty of dismissal from office, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of benefits, and imprisonment of one to six years with a fine of not less than PHP500,000 but not more than PHP2 million.

“It shall pass through the Civil Service (Commission). Therefore, if there is a complaint against a front liner, it has to be proven that indeed a violation was committed,” he said.

The city government targets to have the BOSS established at the third floor of the Iloilo City Hall before the end of the year.

It will house the offices of the building official, zoning, assessor, treasurer, BPLO and Bureau of Fire Protection.

Comelec-6 to conduct special registration for PWDs, elderly

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Commission on Elections in Western Visayas (Comelec-6) is ready to implement the special voters' registration for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens on Wednesday.

In an interview Tuesday, Tomas Valera, Assistant Regional Director of Comelec-6, said that they have already advised all city and municipal offices to conduct the special registration in an area that is accessible to the elderly and PWDs.

“They should make an arrangement. If their office is at the second floor or third floor of the building, they should provide a table at the ground floor where these senior citizens and PWDs could easily go to,” he said.

Valera asked the cooperation and understanding of regular registrants by solely giving the day for senior citizens and PWDs to transact with Comelec offices since it is just a one-day activity.

He assured that PWDs and senior citizens will still be prioritized after this special registration.

The resumption of voter’s registration for the 2019 midterm elections started last July 2 and will end on September 29.

Aside from new registration, Valera said they are also accepting transfer/transfer with reactivation, reactivation, change/correction of entry and inclusion/reinstatement of records in the list of voters.

However, Valera said he cannot disclose yet the number of new registrants in each province in the region.

He called on the public not to wait for the deadline.

Western Visayas registered 4.4 million voters in the region during the recent barangay elections and 1.5 million voters for the Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

‘Gov’t. Express at the Mall’ opens Sept. 3

By Lilibeth A. French

ILOILO CITY, Sept. 3 (PIA6) - - The Civil Service Commission 6 will hold a four-day one-stop-shop showcasing frontline and basic services of participating government agencies in celebration of the 118th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary this September.

“Government Express at the Mall” will be held at the North Wing of SM City Iloilo in Mandurriao district starting September 3 and will be opened during mall hour

CSC 6 Director IV lawyer Rodolfo Encajonado said the “Government Express at the Mall” is one of the activities lined up for this year’s PCSA celebration in Western Visayas wherein participating agencies are bringing public services to a more popular arena.

"The activity aims to increase the visibility of government services and to impress upon the public the idea that government is capable of express service," Encajonado said in his invitation letter to heads of government agencies here.

As of August 30, a total of 22 government agencies have already signified their intention to take part in the event to include the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG PhilHealth, Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, Professional Regulation Commission, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Statistics Authority, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Land Transportation Commission, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Tourism , Department of Health, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Office of the Civil Defense, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Iloilo City government and CSC.

“Government Express at the Mall” will culminate on September 6, the date CSC 6 will also recognize winners in the region for the 2018 Honor Awards Program to be held in the same venue.

A two-day Government Job Fair will follow on September 7 to 8, which is still part of the PCS anniversary celebration in the region with the theme “Lingkod Bayani: Maka-Diyos, Makatao, Makabayan.” (JBG/laf/PIA6-Iloilo)

Iloilo City to regulate use of plastic straws, stirrers

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here is eyeing an ordinance that will regulate the use of plastic drinking straws and stirrers in all business establishments and stalls to promote environment-friendly practices and alternatives.

City Councilor R Leone N. Gerochi on Friday said his office will be calling for a committee hearing on September 5, as chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP/ City Council) committee on public services, environment protection and ecology, where the proposed ordinance was referred for appropriate action.

“The city recognizes the damaging effects of the indiscriminate use of plastic straws and its disposal by certain establishments within the area and jurisdiction of the city,” said Councilor Lady Julie Grace Baronda, author of the proposed ordinance.

The proposed “Plastic Straw and Plastic Stirrers Ordinance of Iloilo City” shall cover “plastic drinking straws that are not properly disposed of and cannot be reused and recycled."

Once passed, among the prohibited acts and practices are the use of plastic drinking straws and stirrers in beverages sold in all business establishments, its indiscriminate throwing and selling.

As proposed, ordinance violators will be meted with PHP500, PHP800 and PHP1,000 on first, second and third offense, respectively.

Meanwhile, the business establishment shall be fined PHP1,500; PHP3,000 and PHP5,000 during the first, second and third offenses, respectively. The second violation would also cause the suspension of the business permit and cancellation of permit on the third offense, all at the discretion of the court.

The City Environment and Natural Resources Office and the Liga ng mga Barangay shall be the lead implementer while the monitoring of business establishments will be the task of the Business Process Licensing Office.

In July last year, this city's Regulation Ordinance 2013-403 that prohibits the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags was fully implemented.

PH Marines extends mobile recruitment in Iloilo until Sept. 9

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – The Philippine Marines Corps (PMC) has extended until Sept. 9 its mobile recruitment in Iloilo to allow ample time for applicants to submit their documentary requirements.

The recruitment targets 400 recruits from Western Visayas. To date only 260 have submitted applications.

“This is to give ample time to interested individuals to grab the opportunity,” said Capt. Jieve Ajijul, officer-in-charge of the PMC’s mobile recruitment team, in an interview Friday.

“We believe that there are still those who are really interested to apply but they are still waiting for the release of their requirements,” he said.

PMC started accepting applications last August 21 until Sept. 4 only. The recruitment processes were conducted in Molo and Arevalo campuses of the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University.

He said they already wrote letters to local chief executives in some towns in the province of Iloilo so they could bring the mobile recruitment to their areas.

“We know that there are interested applicants in the towns so we will be the one to get their applications,” he said.

The PMC’s recruitment is open to natural born Filipino, from 18 up to 25 years old and six months, not a day older during application.

For high school graduates of the four-year curriculum, they need to submit authenticated birth certificate, diploma, form 137 and NC-2 certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

For high school graduates under the K to 12 curriculum, they must submit a diploma and form 137; and those who earned at least 72 units in college, they need to submit their high school diploma, form 137 and transcript of records.

Qualified applicants will undergo six months training, Ajijul said.

During the training period, each candidate soldier could earn PHP18,587 monthly, excluding their allowance, food, billeting and full compliments of uniform.

After completing the training, private marine soldiers will be earning a minimum income of PHP29,668, or a gross monthly pay of PHP40,000 including allowances.

Ajijul recalled that it was 14 years ago when the last recruitment was conducted in Iloilo where 300 candidates were recruited.

The Philippine Marines is a military branch of service that is into combat and amphibious operations.