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Officials on guard for gov't rice price
by Jemin B. Guillermo
Roxas City (2 July 2008) -- The National Food Authority (NFA) is stepping up its price and supply monitoring activities in the markets.
According to Edna Artates, NFA Information Officer of Capiz, they are closely monitoring the rice trading activities of their accredited retailers, amidst price increases on commercial rice in the markets here.
She said that double efforts are being done by the agency's Palengke Watch team, in close coordination with the local government units, to protect consumers against unscrupulous traders.
Artates said that they are guarding consumers here against irregularities of rice trading, especially on diversion of government rice, overpricing and non-display of price tags and signboards.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap earlier disclosed that the NFA and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are working in tandem in Panay in checking price movements and running after retailers and other food businessmen engaged in profiteering and other illicit trade practices.
Yap also ordered NFA officials to increase rice distribution efforts to stabilize the supply and prices of staple food in Western Visayas and assured consumers in Panay Island of adequate food supply.
Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called on the United Nations to help ensure the steady supply of rice especially to needy nations amid the global threat of rising oil and food prices.
The President issued the call during the reception for UN permanent representatives at the UN Headquarters during her 10-day official visit at the United States. (PIA)
Antique health office intensifies disease surveillance activities
by EA Abasquez
San Jose, Antique (2 July 2008) -- Disease surveillance activities have been intensified provincewide following onslaughts of typhoon Frank, especially in evacuation centers where source of potable water supply has been affected and the sanitary environmental conditions would likely occur due to over congestion in living quarters.
Provincial Health Officer In Charge Dante Debit said among barangays hardest hit by the recent calamity were San Pedro in San Jose, the capital town, barangays Bugo, Bagumbayan, San Rafael, Trinidad, Sitio Durog- Iguirindon and Cadolonan in San Remigio and Minoro-Tica in Bugasong, the source said.
A total of 343 barangays, 25,883 families and 35,652 persons were reportedly affected, DSWD/PDCC data showed.
Nebit has enjoined affected families to boil their drinking water if they are in doubt of water source/supply. Affected residents were likewise oriented on the chlorination process to treat their drinking water, the source pointed out.
Observance of personal/community hygiene, including the use of sanitary toilets to combat spread of diseases have been part of surveillance and health advocacy, Nebit explained.
PHO forewarned the affected sectors and individuals to refrain from consuming contaminated food especially coming from drowned animals to avoid food poisoning.
Likewise, school buildings used as evacuation centers are thoroughly sanitized to make classroom conducive to learning and to safeguard the health of pupils, students and teachers.
Nebit further pointed out that disease surveillance, vaccination/immunization for measles, oral polio vaccines (OPV), vitamin A for children 6 months to five years old and distribution of sodium hypochlorite for water treatment have been sustained to ward off disease outbreak.
The personnel fromDOH-Central Office - National Epidemiology Center came over last June 26 to assist the Provincial Health Office in disease surveillance activities. So far no disease outbreak has been monitored or reported in the province, Nebit concluded. (PIA)
DILG urges reactivation of barangay peace and order committees
by T. Villavert
Iloilo City (2 July 2008) -- Following the election of new set of barangay officials last year, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) felt necessary to reorganize the Barangay Peace and Order Committees (BPOC) nationwide.
Malacanang said that DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno issued memorandum circular to the local chief executives to reactivate the BPOC to help "maintain and enhance peace and order in, as well as guarantee the effective delivery of public safety services to all communities nationwide".
The DILG secretary stressed in the memo that the reorganization of BPOC should be constituted through resolutions passed by their respective Sangguniang Barangays.
As suggested by the DILG Secretary, the barangay safety plan should contain the following major areas of concern: crime prevention and control; counterinsurgency and terrorism; fire prevention and supervision; disaster management and control; and environmental enhancement.
The punong barangay sits as a chairperson of the BPOC. The members of every BPOC are: the Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson; a member of the Lupon Tagapamayapa designated by the punong barangay; a public school teacher designated by the school principal or school head teacher; an officer of the Philippine National Police appointed by the Chief of Police of the corresponding city or municipality. The other BPOC members include a representative from the Interfaith Group; a senior citizen; a barangay tanod; and three members endorsed neighborhood association from existing barangay-based anti-crime groups, watch groups or non-government organizations.
The BPOC is tasked to initiate, coordinate and monitor the implementation of peace and order programs at the barangay level; monitor and check the nefarious activities of criminal elements in the community; and supervise barangay tanods in identifying constituents with strong deviant behavior for referral to the appropriate authorities.
Secretary Puno said that the BPOC should closely and maintain dialogues with the city or municipal peace and order council, disaster coordinating committee and law enforcement units operating in their barangay; and formulate plans and recommend measures to improve peace and order in their area of responsibility.
A periodic assessments of the prevailing peace and order situation in the barangay is also required as well as the submission of reports with the appropriate recommendations to the higher-level peace and order councils in the area, the Malacanang press report disclosed. (PIA)
Gov't seeks urgent protection, management of peatlands
by Merlin G. Samonte
Butuan City (July 2 2008) - The national government has launched a massive and sustained use and Protection of Peatlands in the Philippines, through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (PAWB-DENR).
Along this line, the PAWB-DENR has initiated the development of a National Action Plan (NAP), in collaboration with other concerned government agencies, local government units, the academe, non-government organizations, as well as the international groupings.
It has also directed the move within the framework of the ASEAN Peatland Management Initiative (APMI), which is intended to attain the following objectives, awareness raising and capacity building; protecting peatlands with high conservation values; setting-up of appropriate institutional structure; and developing sustainable peatland management strategies.
The National Action Plan lays out the operational objectives to serve as guide for implementing agencies to ensure the protection and sustainable use of peatlands in the Philippines.
Meantime, PAWB-DENR will assist the implementation of the action plan in the national level to make sure that the goals and objectives are met on time. It is also tasked to prepare and follow-up the issuance of an Executive Order by the Office of the President to ensure the integration of the NAP activities in the sectoral plans and programs of the various agencies and local government units involved in the implementation of the National Action Plan.
Peatlands are wetland ecosystems which are recognized by the pile of organic matter called "peat" coming from decaying leaves and branches of trees, and under very wet condition. Peats may sometimes accumulate to a heap of about 20 meters high. They are very important to ecology and the environment as a whole, as they serve as a sponge during the rainy season, absorbing as much water, and releasing it slowly during the dry period, thus, maintaining the base flows of rivers, as well as the ground water level. Peatlands are also believed to have significant role in preventing the penetration of sea water up river. Although comparatively little as compared with other countries, peatlands in the Philippines plays an important role in the storage of carbon from the atmosphere.
According to available information, the biodiversity values of Philippine Peatlands are very high considering the Philippine flora's high level of endemism, peatland areas may yet yield a number of undescribed species. It will be noted that of the ecosystem level biodiversity, there appears to be a unique collection of vegetation in the Caimpugan (Agusan Marsh) peat dome, which is different from the nearby northwest Borneo.
Peatlands also have socio-economic values. They are important to local communities as a source of timber and firewood for domestic needs. They are also important as a source of non-wood products like the Frimbistyles globulosa, locally known as "tikog" used for mat-making and other livelihood purposes.
It is very unfortunate that there is, at present, a very limited capacity for a wise management of peatlands, since there is also the absence of a national institutional framework for peatland management.
These conditions lead to the degradation of peatlands through activities that do not take into consideration the special properties of peats. Hence, large areas of the peatlands in the Agusan Marsh and the Leyte Sab-a Basin have been burned and cleared for agricultural purposes. However because of poor yield, due to lack or limited knowledge of the special properties of peatlands soil, these were abandoned after a few years.
Large scale development projects, including irrigation, also threaten peatlands in the Agusan Marsh and Leyte Sab-a Basin Areas. There are also the problems of substantial migration from other parts of the country, the occurrence of fire, the continuous clearing, and the continued issuance of Certificate of Land Ownership Agreement (CLOAs) over peatland areas by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
To arrest these developments, a National Goal of promoting the sustainable management and wise use of peatlands through awareness raising, capacity building, and enhanced inter-agency cooperation for the conservation of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and the benefit of the local community, had been set.
New policy measures, such as: declaration of peatlands with high biodiversity as protected areas; local level measure against reclassification of peatlands as alienable and disposable lands; and reversion of peatland areas covered by Certificate of Land Ownership Agreements (CLOAs) which are found to be unsuitable for agriculture back to forest land, have also been declared urgent.
The presence of peatlands has been confirmed in two sites in the Philippines. These are the Agusan Marsh and the Leyte Sab-a Basin. However, peats may also be present in the following areas: Ligwasan Marsh in Mindanao, the largest marsh land in the Philippines; Dolongan area in Basey, Western Samar (Bureau of Soils, 1975. Soil Survey of Samar Provinces, Philippines Reconnaissance Soil Survey and Soil Erosion Survey); Southern Leyte (Whitmore/1984) as cited in Draft Philippine Plant Conservation Strategy; Mt. Pulag in Northern Luzon (Leonard co, pers.comm.); Surigao del Norte, Northeastern Mindanao (areas overlying ultramatic rocks, Edwino Fernando, pers.comm.); Naujan Lake Marshland; and Pangasinan Floodplains. (The Peoples Guardian/PIA-Caraga)
PWDs train on cellphone repair
By Rose B. Palacio
Davao City (2 July 2008) -- A rigid training on Celfon repairs for persons with disabilities (PWDs) is scheduled during the weeklong celebration of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation week July 14-23, 2008. This year's theme is:"Kung May Access, May Success."
Ms. Malou Bermudo of the City Social Services and Development (CSSDO) said the training will start on the first day of the celebration (July 14) at the ADAP office, ground floor of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, Davao City.
A foot parade will be held during the kick-off day activity on Monday (July 14), assembly time is 6:30am at the Freedom Park. The foot parade will culminate at City Hall for the Flag Raising ceremony.
At 10:00am (July 14), ADAP will have a press conference at the Kapihan sa SM with guests like Councilor Tomas Monteverde 1V; Welmo Capoy of DSB; Armand Amancio of NAPC; Felicisimo Lagno of ADAP; Malou Bermudo of CSSDO; and representatives from the DSWD XI.
The Kakayahan Fair will start on July 15 (Tuesday) including the launching of PWDs IDs. Another press conference is set this day at City Hall conference room during the I-Speak Forum at 10:00am.
Other activities lined-up include: a Theater workshop; Consultation and Dialogue of Regional Federation of PWDs; Health Day- Disability clinic, silip tainga, silip mata, diabetes screening, and common eye problem of children.
Basic computer networking; Thanksgiving Mass; Awarding of PAG-ASA game winners; and graduation of graphic arts design, basic computer networking and graduation of celfon repair. A variety show will be held Sunday (July 20).
Unless there will be changes, all ADAP members and PWDs are encouraged to get involve in the weeklong activity. For details, contact ADAP office c/o Felicisimo Lagno at Sangguniang Panlungsod, or see in person Ms. Malou Bermudo at CSSDO. (PIA)
West Visayas stockpiles ample rice supply
by Jemin B. Guillermo
Roxas City (1 July 2008) -- Western Visayas has about 2.748 million bags of rice equivalent to 46 days daily consumption in the region.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap disclosed that the industry inventories in Region VI total to 2.748 million bags, which is equivalent to a supply for 46 days at a daily consumption rate average of 60,179 bags or 3,009 metric tons (MT) in Western Visayas.
Yap said the National Food Authority (NFA) has a stockpile of 683,690 bags or 34,185 MT and is thus able to inject more stocks into the market to stabilize retail prices.
He added that more stocks are available, given the bumper summer harvests and incoming imports from Vietnam totaling 600,000 MT.
In Capiz, the rice inventory reached 248,517 bags of rice as of June 26, NFA Information Officer Edna Artates said.
She said that of the total rice inventory, some 165,981 bags are in the households, 43,536 bags at the wholesalers, some 32,151 bags in the millers and the remaining 6,849 bags are in the retailers.
In addition, the NFA here has 33,452 bags of government rice being stocked at the NFA warehouses in the province, she said.
Artates said that they are expecting this week the delivery of more imported rice as buffer stock for Capiz as part of the government's 180,000 imported rice allocation to the province.
During Yap's visit in Panay island, he ordered NFA officials to increase rice distribution efforts to stabilize the supply and prices of staple food in Western Visayas and assured consumers in Panay Island of adequate food supply.
He had also warned retailers in Panay Island, which was hit the hardest by the typhoon, that the government would file charges against, and seize the stocks, of traders engaged in profiteering and other illicit trade practices in the aftermath of the latest typhoon.
Yap said that the NFA and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are working in tandem in Panay in checking price movements and running after retailers and other food businessmen engaged in profiteering and other illicit trade practices. (PIA)
Davao chamber sees growth of ICT, SME sector
Davao City (1 July 2008) -- Chamber of Commerce and Industries Inc. (DCCCII) President Simeon Marfori II sees the expansion and growth of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between PLDT and the Chamber on the offering of a wide range of ICT services to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises members of DCCII.
The MOU was signed by Marfori and PLDT SME Group head Katrina C. Luna Abelarde last July 27 at the Apo View Hotel Davao. The MOU is the first in the country where PLDT hopes to help SMEs foster connectivity and access to the latest innovations on ICT.
DCCII will provide the venue, linkage and technical skills to SMEs while PLDT will provide affordable, practical, scalable and managed solutions to these SMEs.
Marfori said that these are the elements needed for the growth of a sector (ICT) which along with agriculture, tourism sectors is where the Chamber will be focusing on for this year.
"The more SME users of ICT the better it will be for the industry as it will be used to increase productivity and efficient allocation of resources.
Marfori said that he hopes to enter into another agreement with another company. He said the DCCCII is looking into IBM which could provide the server, which could be used by the SMEs.
Luna-Abelarde said that the PLDT SME Nation Group was formed in January this year to help provide SMEs and IT platform. She said that of the 300,000 SMEs only 10-20% are connected to the internet of which 2 to 5% have websites of their own.
She said that among the packages offered to SMEs include Voice solutions which include a full PABX solutions package comprising of the switch and line. Also offered are Broadband package and applications for business operations. (PIA/RG Alama)
UAE closes embassy in Yemen
DUBAI, Feb. 14 (PNA/Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said Saturday that it closed its embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and evacuated all diplomatic staff, the state-run WAM news agency reported.
The decision was made due to the increasing deterioration of the political and security situations in Yemen, the WAM quoted a statement of the UAE Foreign Ministry as saying.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia suspended the operations in its embassy in Yemen, and the embassy staff were asked to return to Saudi Arabia.
The security situation Yemen has deteriorated since January when the Shiite Houthi group seized the presidential palace in Sanaa after deadly clashes with presidential guards.
On Feb. 6, the Houthi group announced a unilateral move to dissolve the parliament and form a presidential council to take over power after Yemeni president and prime minister resigned, which was rejected by Yemen's political parties and denounced by the Gulf Arab states.
The political impasse in Yemen also promoted the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Germany to withdraw their diplomatic staff in Sanaa, citing the security situation. (PNA/Xinhua)
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