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Bangon farmer-partners in Leyte increase resilience to drought

Canadian Ambassador witnesses resilience of Haiyan-hit communities in Eastern Samar

PH youth delegates make a stand on climate justice

Army troops encounter NPA in Samar and Leyte

Landmark ordinance in Cebu sets to establish the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary

8ID Conducts 1st Semester Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) Assessment

8ID conducts media fellowship in Eastern Visayas

Young officers join the ranks of 8ID







RAFI day care center
Children of Tag-amakan, Asturias, Cebu enjoy their new indigenous playground that came along with their new day care center.

RAFI turns over 13 day care centers in Cebu

By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
August 31, 2015

CEBU CITY – In partnership with the concerned local government units, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) turned over 13 day care centers and child-friendly indigenous playgrounds in several Cebu towns July and August this year.

Through the Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund (DACF), RAFI handed new day care centers to officials of Barangays Owak, Manguiao, San Isidro, Tag-amakan, and Lunas in Asturias town last July 1 and 2; Barangays Punay, Tampaan, Saksak, and Zaragosa in Aloguinsan town last July 22 and 23; Barangay Cansojong in Talisay City last July 24; and Barangays Bulasa, Talaga, and Usmad in Argao town last August 24.

“RAFI donated only a portion in this project. The bulk of the expenses was shouldered by your town and your barangay. I hope that before 2016 we are already done with all these projects,” said RAFI Chief Operating Officer Chua during one of the turnover ceremonies in Asturias.

DACF supports early childhood care and development, as 80 percent of the child’s brain development happens between ages three to six.

Maria Iris Andrino, RAFI-DACF executive director, also thanked the town and barangay officials for spending time and effort to realize the partnership.

“I am glad nga nagtinabangay ang tanan (all did their part to help)”, she said.

The classrooms were painted with light colors and the wall outside showed different cartoon characters and flower designs. Always, after every turn over, the children would rush inside their classroom and sit on their little chairs, a smile painted on their faces.

But what pupil Ma. Khyshagen B. Adlawan of Brgy. Talaga loved about her new classroom is that there is a playground where she could spend time with her friends after their class.

“It is not a case of giving money but how to give it. It’s really a great feeling seeing the big happy smiles in children’s faces,” also said Romy Ronquillo, RAFI Board of Trustees member.






RAFI donation to ERUF training center
RAFI President Roberto “Bobby” Aboitiz (seated, center) signs the agreement for the donation of P1.6 M to the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation. To his right is Dr. Pek Eng Lim, ERUF BOT chairman; and to his left is Dr. Kenneth Chan, ERUF BOT vice chairman. (Standing, L-R) RAFI Chief Operating Officer Dominica Chua, ERUF BOT Treasurer Mona Li, ERUF BOT member Dr. Jesus Ravanes, and ERUF’s Brenda Salvaña witnessed the agreement signing.

RAFI donates P1.5M for ERUF’s training center

By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
August 30, 2015

CEBU CITY – To help train emergency responders, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. donated P1.58 million to the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF) for the construction of its five-room training center at the North Reclamation Area, Cebu City.

Calling the people of ERUF “angels,” RAFI President Roberto “Bobby” Aboitiz said RAFI would gladly help the foundation, which “has been making miracles for the last 29 years.”

“This is another one of the steps towards creating a better community. This (donation) is not the only time. Whenever we can (donate to ERUF), we will,” he told ERUF officials who accepted the check last August 11.

ERUF said the center would provide “training for emergency medical and pre-hospital care and rescue and rehabilitation services to the needs of the community.”

RAFI Chief Operating Officer Dominica B. Chua said RAFI is also outfitting a Hino truck to serve as ERUF’s mobile triage costing P1.91 million. She praised the foundation for being a “reliable intervener in terms of emergency.”

She also said that with climate change now being the new normal, everyone should help equip ERUF.

Dr. Pek Eng Lim, ERUF Board of Trustees chairman, assured that they “will continue at what we do best,” adding that theirs is the only group in the Philippines accredited by the US and HongKong as emergency responders.

ERUF was also among those that responded and went to Tacloban City in the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda in November 8, 2013.

According to the Memorandum of Agreement that the two foundations signed, the training center “will develop, professionalize and standardize the provision of pre-hospital emergency care for patients needing treatment.”

“After Yolanda, everybody has ambulances. We support by training them,” said Mona Li, ERUF BOT treasurer.





DOLE trains contractors on occupational safety

DPWH occupational safety training for contractors

August 27, 2015

CALBAYOG CITY – In order to promote safety construction and health to attain a high quality of safe occupation and health of the workers, the Department of Labor and Employment conducts Construction Safety and Health Training, August 10-14.

The four-day training by DOLE trainers has Mr. Lito L. Brizuela, Occupational Safety and Health Consultant and Mr. Jose N. Baroc, Jr., Occupational Safety and Health Practitioner, held at the DPWH Conference Room.

The Department of Public Works and Highways’ contractors request for the holding of said training guide OSH Program is the requirement of contractors in the implementation of projects in the department in compliance of DOLE’s Department Order No. 13 Series of 1998, or the DOLE Guidelines Governing the Occupational Safety and Health in the Construction Industry, and Department Order No. 19, Series of 1993, or the DOLE Guidelines Governing the Employment of Workers in the Construction Industry.

Topics concerning basic safety concept, unsafe act and condition, construction site premises assessment, construction machineries, and industrial hygiene safety are discussed extensively to the participants.

The BOSH Trainers are warmly welcomed by the District Engineer Virgilio C. Eduarte and Assistant District Engineer Alvin A. Ignacio who also joined the participants in the training to apprise them of the OSH program being the approving authority for concurrence of DOLE.





Newly formed political party accuses COMELEC and Customs of corruption, perfect instruments for cheating and raising funds for the 2016 elections

By Partido Lakas ng Masa
August 27, 2015

QUEZON CITY – Successive protest actions were held today at the offices of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) under what protestors dubbed as the start of a series of “Tour to Expose Corruption” in line with the 2016 elections. The said agencies were accused of being “institutionally corrupt and are perfect instruments for cheating and raising funds for the coming elections.”

The protest action was initiated by Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), a political party of the marginalized sectors. Among its affiliates are the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), the Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod and the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon.

“As the campaign fever rises by the day, we fear that the probability of holding clean and honest elections also fades by the day,” said Sonny Melencio, chairperson of PLM.

Highly Probable Collusion

Melencio explained that, “The P300-million midnight deal between Smartmatic and the COMELEC for the diagnostics and repair of 82,000 PCOS machines that was declared void by the Supreme Court was already a red flag, and yet no reforms were implemented and no transparent and upgraded mechanisms were put in place to ensure the COMELEC deals were in the best interest of the people.”

“Negotiators of Smartmatic must be the luckiest people on earth for monopolizing billions-of-pesos worth of contracts from the COMELEC in the past three months,” he said.

Smartmatic was recently awarded a P7.86-billion lease contract by the COMELEC for 90,977 optical mark reader machines (OMRs), on top of the 23,000 OMRs already awarded to it early this year at the cost of P1.72 billion.

Melencio noted that after the voiding of the P300-million refurbishment deal, the COMELEC’s budget for the refurbishment of the PCOS machines, including consumables and the official ballots, was adjusted twice from P2.88 billion to P3.13 billion. Smartmatic refused to re-bid. Surprisingly, COMELEC nullified the remaining bid by the Dermalog, Avante & Stone of David group, leaving no takers for the refurbishment contract. There was an alarming change of mind by the Commissioners who dropped the idea of refurbishing the 82,000 warehoused PCOS machines in favor of leasing a new set of 93,977 OMRs. All these seemed ridiculously tailor-fitted for the interests of Smartmatic.

Melencio demanded that the COMELEC explain thoroughly to the public the sudden change of plans and explain why it was more beneficial and cost effective to the tax-paying public to lease new machines instead of using the old ones. He also lobbied for a holistic review of all Comelec decisions since 2010, as well as the inclusion of representatives of civil society and peoples’ organizations in the entire electoral process being undertaken by COMELEC to ensure transparency and people’s trust in the voting system.

“The COMELEC has failed in extinguishing doubts on the reliability of the PCOS machines since the 2010 elections, and the lack of transparency in its operations has fueled the suspicion of many, experts and skeptics alike, that something was wrong with the machines,” he lamented.

Motive behind the Balikbayan box fiasco

The PLM likewise held a demonstration at the BoC office in Port Area calling for Customs Chief Bert Lina’s resignation. They accused Lina of using his position to influence tariff and custom measures to gain undue advantage over his competition in the forwarding and freight business. On top of that, Lina treated OFWs as “mere collateral damage” in the competition between these companies in the logistics industry.

“Lina is misleading the public by declaring that he is just out to implement and upgrade the Customs rules, when his only intention is to give his previously owned companies advantage over competition,” Melencio declared.

“The processing of cargoes is already stiff, but his order for mandatory inspections will further impede the forwarders’ operations. This in turn will force its clients to find more reliable, prudent and punctual forwarding services. And Lina’s companies would be it. This is plain and simple harassment of Lina’s business rivals,” he averred.

Lina, together with his wife Sylvia, is chairman and major stockholder of 19 companies under the Lina Group of Companies which spans from logistics to solar energy and waste management. Among them are Airfreight 2100 Inc., Air2100 Inc., Cargohaus Inc., U-Freight Philippines Inc., and U-Ocean Inc., all doing business with the BoC.

Upon accepting the appointment as Customs chief last April, Lina declared that he would divest himself of all business interests as they are in obvious conflict with his public office. But up to now, no public announcement by concerned agencies has been made on the status of his divestments.

The group believes that Lina’s companies were sold to lesser know associates or even to dummies so that he may buy them back after Aquino’s term ends in 2016, similar to what he did in 2005 when he resigned as Customs chief from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet and joined the Hyatt 10.

Despite Lina’s lion share of the market, the PLM deems that he is “going in for the kill – a move to monopolize the entire forwarding industry before President Noynoy Aquino steps down from office”.

Lina is believed to be one of the major contributors in the campaign of Aquino when he ran in 2010. PLM fears that Lina will most likely contribute to the campaign kitty of the Aquino-endorsed candidacy of Mar Roxas in the 2016 elections for as long as the Palace supports the scheme of the Customs chief.

The group likewise concluded that the BoC has always been suspected as fund-raiser for administration parties. The previous Customs commissioner himself, John Philip Sevilla, had resigned from his post after accusing the supporters, allies and loyalists of President Aquino of pressuring him to make Customs a milking cow for 2016. Sevilla later on retracted his statement. “It is however an open secret that Customs posts are generally awarded to campaign financiers and supporters,” Melencio claimed.

“Not unless the bata-bata system is completely quashed that we will have a Customs free of graft and bureaucratic wranglings,” Melencio added.

Meanwhile Leody de Guzman of the militant BMP scoffed at the recent announcement of the Palace to no longer subject Balikbayan boxes to random inspection when their scheme was to support Lina’s plan to subject all shipments to mandatory inspection.

“Is this how the Aquino government treats its “Bagong Bayani”? Malacanang’s support for Lina is a testament of how this government treats the OFWs, as collateral damage in Lina’s pursuit to monopolize the freight forwarding industry,” he said.

The BMP laments that Aquino not only failed to attribute and express gratitude to more than ten million Filipinos abroad for their remittances in his last SONA but also treats them as mere “collateral damage”.





School building project inaugurated

Danao I Elementary School building project

August 26, 2015

CALBAYOG CITY – Danao I Elementary School, one of the recipients of 2-storey, 4 classrooms school building under DepED’s BEEF CY 2014 implemented by Department of Public Works and Highways SFDEO, holds inauguration of the newly completed school building project.

Invited are the DPWH SFDEO key officials headed by District Engineer Virgilio C. Eduarte, Asst. District Engineer Alvin A. Ignacio, engineers and chiefs of sections of the district.

The program starts with thanksgiving mass presided by Fr. Renato D. Maliwat, wherein the DPWH key officials, the entire teaching staff of Danao I Elementary School and the GPTA officers attended. The holy mass is followed by the blessing of the two-storey building and the cutting of ribbon lead by the DE Eduarte, Principal II, Mr. Ongcal, and the representatives from the Calbayog City Division Office.

The program proper starts with the singing of the Philippine Anthem and the address of thanks coming from the Danao I Elementary School Principal II Mr. Elbert Ongcal, where he expresses his sincere gratitude to the implementers of the said project. The Asst. Schools Division Superintendent Mr. Raul D. Agban intimates his strong support to the school in making it a realization. And of course, the one who makes the project possible, DE Eduarte gives his message in response to the continuous expression of thanks he and the DPWH are receiving regarding the success of the school building project. DE Eduarte’s message breaks the ice as he delivers his message to the audience through his jokes.

As a finale, the inauguration program ends by the concluding message coming from the Brgy. Captain of Danao, Hon. Merlita L. Florida who abruptly finishes her part to give way to a sumptuous dinner.





Chiz dares DSWD: Charge people exploiting Yolanda victims

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
August 26, 2015

PASAY CITY – Senator Francis Escudero challenged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to investigate and file appropriate charges against unscrupulous individuals who prey on victims of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” who are supposed to receive the government’s Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) program.

Escudero said the DSWD should seriously look into reports that some Yolanda survivors who have yet to receive housing aid were forced to sign documents indicating that they have availed of the shelter assistance, while others were victimized by loan sharks who connive with dishonest employees of the agency.

“If you are to ask these Yolanda survivors how they feel, they will surely say they’ve been victimized twice: first by the super typhoon and later by opportunists who take advantage of their situation,” Escudero said.

“These immoral and corrupt opportunists, who take advantage of a natural disaster to fill their pockets with money meant for victims, should be thrown in jail,” he added.

ESA provides cash assistance of P30,000 and P10,000 to families whose houses were partially or totally damaged, respectively. The money is used for the purchase of construction materials to repair or reconstruct their homes.

The program, which had an initial funding of P1.9 billion, was intended for families who have not received any shelter assistance from the government or the private sector.

However, there were complaints from beneficiaries themselves that they only received P10,000 even if their homes were totally damaged, and that some of funds went to “fake” or “ghost” beneficiaries.

A number of ESA beneficiaries also complained how loan sharks, in cahoots with unscrupulous DSWD employees, took advantage of them.

These loan sharks would lend cash with 16 percent interest to a potential ESA recipient. The DSWD would then release the shelter assistance not to the beneficiary, but directly to the “financier,” according to reports.



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