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Saturday, April 28, 2012

DENR to tap 17 more schools to clone native trees for National Greening Program

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified 17 more state universities and colleges (SUCs) that will be enlisted this year by the agency to raise quality native tree seedlings using clonal technology in its bid to meet its target of raising some 1.5 billion quality planting materials for the 2011-2016 National Greening Program (NGP).

“We shall have around 29 SUC-based clonal nurseries before the year ends,” Paje said, noting that 12 SUCs have already been enlisted in DENR’s national clonal production program for the construction and operation of clonal nurseries within their campuses.

Paje bared that the 17 SUCs are currently undergoing appraisal to assess their respective qualifications and competencies to operate a fully functional clonal nursery based on the criteria used by the Philippine Forestry Education Network (PFEN), adding that these partner-SUCs will primarily produce indigenous tree seedlings.

“PFEN is almost done with its appraisal of the 17 SUCs and we are just awaiting the green light from them to formally forge a partnership with these SUCs through the signing of memoranda of agreement,” Paje bared. The MOA signing will pave the way for the construction of the clonal nurseries which will be funded by the DENR in the amount of P3.5 million each.

PFEN is an association of academic institutions advancing the forestry education in the Philippines by offering the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Forestry. Included in the list are Benguet State University (La Trinidad, Benguet), Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (Bauko, Mt. Province), Ifugao Sate College of Agriculture and Forestry (Lamut, Ifugao), Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (Bacnotan, La Union), Nueva Viscaya State University (Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya), University of the Philippines at Los Banos (Los Banos, Laguna), Southern Luzon Polytechnic College (Lucban, Quezon).

The list also include Occidental Mindoro National College (San Jose, Occidental Mindoro), West Visayas State University (La Paz, Iloilo City), Negros State College of Agriculture (Kabangkalan, Negros Occ.), Biliran National agricultural College (Biliran, Biliran), Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry (San Jorge, Samar), Leyte State University (Baybay, Leyte), Western Mindanao State University (Zamboanga Del Sur), Central Mindanao University (Musuan, Bukidnon), University of the Philippines–Mindanao ( Davao City), and Mindanao State University (Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur).

According to Angelito Esconde of the DENR’s Ecosystems and Research Development Bureau (ERDB), candidate-SUCs located in areas that are far from a DENR clonal nursery are given priority in the DENR-SUC partnership.

“This is to optimize the production capacity of an SUC-based clonal nursery in augmenting the DENR’s capacity to produce as many quality planting materials, particularly the indigenous tree species which are difficult to raise if produced through the conventional method,” Esconde added.

Through a technique called “vegetative clonal technology,” cloned seedlings are grown from cuttings of premium donor plants that were carefully collected from the forest floor when they were still wildlings for their desired qualities.

These wildlings are then “pampered” at a clonal nursery to produce robust stems that are harvested and, in turn, undergo maintenance care to grow roots lasting up to five months with the help of root-growing hormones, before they are distributed for planting.

Esconde said the method produces abundant tree seedlings that are genetically identical their parent-tree on a year round basis as against the conventional method which make use of seeds gathered from the fruits of the trees.

“The problem is our indigenous tree species like yakal, kamagong, mayapis, molave, tindalo, toog and teak bear fruit only every seven to 10 years,” Esconde added.

Last year, NGP planted some 69.3 million tree seedlings in more than 118,000 hectares. Of the total planted seedlings, five million consisted of indigenous species.

For this year, the NGP aims to raise some 114 million seedlings, 14 million of which are native tree species to be planted in over 200,000 hectares.

Among the SUCs with existing MOA with DENR for clonal nursery operation are the following: Apayao State College in Conner, Apayao; Kalinga-Apayao State College in Tabuk, Kalinga; Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City, Ilocos Norte; Isabela State University in Cabagan, Isabela; Ramon Magsaysay Technological University in Iba, Zambales; Western Philippines University in Aborlan, Palawan; Bicol University in Guinobatan, Albay;Negros Oriental State University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental; Bohol Island State University in Bilar, Bohol; University of Eastern Philippines in Catarman, Samar; Pampanga Agricultural College in Magalang, Pampanga; and Caraga State University in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.

In February this year, the DENR has also entered into a partnership with the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) and the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc (PTFCF) tasking the two to raise indigenous tree species seedlings for the NGP through their members from civil society organizations (CSOs), numbering around 200.

Last week, Paje, together with DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo, led the groundbreaking ceremony for the 1.12-hectare DENR-DOST clonal nursery to be build inside the DOST compound in Taguig City. PAO-DENR

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

PDEA STRIKES LANAO DEL SUR 3 pushers arrested, 2 wounded, 1 dead

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) conducted a buy-bust operation in Wao, Lanao del Sur and arrested three notorious drug personalities after a firefight that left one drug personality dead and two others wounded, yesterday morning, January 9, 2012.

PDEA Director General Undersecretary Jose S. Gutierrez, Jr. identified the arrested suspects as Minda Ontawar, alyas Inang; Kadaffy Mimbalawag; and Bocari Abubakar, all residents of Barangay Kili-kili, Wao, Lanao del Sur. He further identified the fatality as alias Mike and the wounded as Baulo Ontawar, alias Ulo, and Tochi Cagas.

Operatives of PDEA Regional Office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA-ARMM) supported by the 8th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (PA), conducted an entrapment operation against target drug personalities in Barangay Kili-kili, Wao, Lanao del Sur. During the conduct of the said operation, collaborators of the targets engaged the operating team in a firefight which lasted for 15-minutes.

“We are fortunate that we did not have any casualties on our side,” Gutierrez said, as he lauded the operating team, led by PDEA ARMM Regional Director Edwin Layese. Gutierrez said that members of the operating team were aware of the considerable risks involved when they conducted the operation in what is considered as an “untouchable area” in Lanao del Sur, because of the existence of private armed groups (PAGs) in the community.

The PDEA chief said this is not the first time that elements of PDEA-ARMM penetrated PAG-infested areas in Muslim Mindanao. In 2011, PDEA, with the support of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police, neutralized a total of three shabu tiangges and 19 drug dens in Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Marawi. Evangeline DJ Almenario, Chief, Public Information Office, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency

Ombudsman reverses dismissal of Pestaño case

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales yesterday reversed the Joint Resolution dated June 15, 2009 that dismissed the criminal and administrative charges filed by spouses Felipe and Evelyn Pestaño for the murder of their son, Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño.

In a 21-page Joint Order that granted the Pestaño spouses’ Motion for Reconsideration, Ombudsman Morales found probable cause to indict Naval Captain Ricardo Ordoñez and nine other naval officials for Murder.

Ombudsman Morales also found the respondents administratively liable for Grave Misconduct and ordered them dismissed from service.

The nine other naval officials are Cdr. Reynaldo Lopez, HM2 Welmenio Aquino, LCdr. Luidegar Casis, LCdr. Alfrederick Alba, MR2 Sandy Miranda, LCdr. Joselito Colico, LCdr. Ruben Roque, Petty Officer 1st Class Carlito Amoroso, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Mil Leonor Igcasan.

The Ombudsman ruled out the suicide theory as she found prima facie case of conspiracy to commit murder, after taking a hard look at the case including the additional evidence unearthed in the AFP investigation which were made available to the complainants ten years after the death of Ensign Pestaño.

The Information for murder was filed today, January 10, 2012 with the Sandiganbayan. ams/ Dir. Edgardo C. Diansuy, MAB-OMB

Big-time oil price hike warrants junking of Oil Deregulation Law

Amidst the impending big-time hikes in the prices of petroleum products, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on the government anew to junk the Oil Deregulation Law, saying the public needs protection from the oil cartel’s profiteering and overpricing schemes in the face of the global economic crisis.

The Department of Energy has confirmed that the per liter price of gasoline is expected to increase by P1.75 and of diesel by P1.30 this week, due to soaring prices in the world market.

“Given the economic crisis and the political turmoil that it is causing, the international and local cartel will never run out of excuses to hike oil prices. We need to at least moderate the oil companies’ greed by clipping their power to unilaterally increase prices,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“For this round of increase, the international oil cartel is taking advantage of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and unstable market prices to dictate even higher prices. The local oil cartel will no doubt implement their overpricing schemes on the already exorbitant world prices,” he added.

“Because the Oil Deregulation Law is still in place, all the government can do is comment on price movements. We need to junk this anti-people law so the government can exert some control on price movements in the country,” he said.

Transport rep to audit team

KMU also criticized the DOE’s appointment of Atty. Vigor Mendoza of party-list group 1-UTAK as transport sector representative to an audit team that will be created to investigate the oil companies’ books.

The labor center said Mendoza served as a lawyer of the Aquino-owned Hacienda Luisita Incorporated before serving as a party-list representative.

“Atty. Mendoza cannot possibly represent the transport sector. He will represent the Aquino government, not the tranport sector, in the audit team. He will continue the Aquino government’s service to the oil cartel by clearing the latter of any wrongdoing,” Soluta said.

“This early, the Aquino government’s review of the Oil Deregulation Law is being exposed as a charade. It is becoming clearer that the government does not want to protect the public, but merely wants to de-odorize the reputation of the oil companies and the Oil Deregulation Law,” he added. Roger Soluta, KMU Secretary General

On the ongoing demolition in San Juan

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno supports the urban poor of Barangay Corazon de Jesus, Pinaglabanan, San Juan who are fighting the demolition teams sent by the city government of San Juan and the Aquino government.

The struggle of the residents of Barangay Corazon de Jesus against the demolition of their homes is just. Their homes are being demolished to give way to the construction of a medium-rise housing project which will most likely not benefit them.

We condemn the city government of San Juan under the leadership of Mayor Guia Gomez for using an excessive amount of force against the urban poor. We condemn its use of teargas, water cannons and even stones against the urban poor.

We condemn the city government of San Juan for ignoring the proposals made by the residents of Barangay Corazon de Jesus to accommodate the city government’s plans. Such proposals include a reblocking of the area, an adjustment of the spaces occupied by the residents’ houses, and in-city relocation.

Barangay Corazon de Jesus is near Greenhills and the city government has so far failed to present the barangay’s residents with a blueprint for the project. The barangay’s residents have every reason to suspect that the city government is actually planning to construct a commercial center, not a housing project.

We condemn the Aquino government for carrying on with its war against the urban poor. It has been ardently supporting big capitalists’ projects while denying the poor of decent homes and decent jobs.

It is the city government of San Juan and the Aquino government, not the progressive organizations of the poor, who have instigated the residents of Barangay Corazon de Jesus to use force in fighting the demolition teams.

The country’s urban poor are resorting to force because of the Aquino government’s overkill in using violence against urban poor residents who are defending their homes and communities from demolition. Roger Soluta, KMU Secretary General

Sendong’s damage to food processing and construction industries in CDO and Iligan reach P 100 M

The Department of Trade and Industry- Region 10 reported an estimated 100 million pesos worth of damages to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan due to the flashfloods brought about by typhoon Sendong.

In an interview with DTI Director Thelma Dumpit Murillo over Radyo ng Bayan, DTI Region 10 Assistant Director Linda Boniao said the food processing industry in Cagayan de Oro City was hardest hit by the typhoon, completely destroying several factory plants and equipment and facilities of major food processors in the city. Among those hardly hit are Pines TGO Foods and Darling Foods, producers of processed meat such as ham, hotdog, and sausage.

ARD Boniao reported that in Iligan City, vehicles and heavy equipment of construction companies were swept away to the sea by flood waters.

DTI Region 10 has coordinated with Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Small Business Corporation (SB Corp) to assist SMEs in acquisition of new equipment and to provide them access to loans to repair their facilities.

The amount of damages reported was only partial as of airtime and possibly will increase after they have assessed all the affected SMEs in the region.

The DTI-Region 10 is continuously monitoring the prices and supply of goods in the typhoon-hit areas. ARD Boniao told that price of basic necessities and prime commodities in Region 10 is stable. However, there was shortage in the supply of some items such as canned goods caused by the rise in demand in affected areas.
ARD Boniao said she and her staff are thankful that while they personally lost some properties, they survived Sendong. Reden Miranda, DTI-PRO

DTI to boost exports and investments this 2012 thru new strategic initiatives

The Department of Trade and Industry revealed the direction it is taking to boost export and for investments this year.

During a radio interview with DTI-Public Relations Director Thelma Dumpit Murillo, Undersecretary for Trade and Investment Promotion Cristino Panlilio said among this year’s plan is to revive the PhilTrade as a permanent venue for exporters to showcase their world-class products.

Panlilio said talks are currently underway between the DTI and the owners of the property, Social Security System (SSS) and Philippine National Bank (PNB). Once re-established, PhilTrade Center will be a permanent exhibition center open year-round for buyers of products such as garments, housewares, furniture, Christmas decors and others.

This will also serve as a venue for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to exhibit their goods, as well as to facilitate the buyers in finding local products.

Another strategy that is underway is the reorganization of the Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC), DTI’s trade and investments promotion arm abroad which will focus on specific markets by geographic location such as Europe, North America, India-Pakistan-Sri Lanka-Nepal market, and others, Panlilio said.

Each market will be served by a team of experts in the area of export, importation, investments, commercial intelligence and data gathering. This move, which will start this month, is expected to make the FTSC more efficient and deliver results.

DTI constantly hold talks with export groups to seek their suggestions on how the government can improve the department’s programs and services. Usec. Panlilio said one of the current initiatives of the department is the establishment of Shared Services Facilities in various regions in the country.

This project, which is under the Regional Operations Group headed by Usec. Merly Cruz, aims to provide MSMEs affordable means to package their products and eventually turn these enterprises into world-class exporters.

On investment promotions, Usec. Panlilio said that good governance under the Aquino administration is encouraging investors to put up their business in the Philippines.

One of DTI’s priority sectors is the revival of the garments industry. Director Murillo said that DTI is still hoping for the passage of the Save our Industries Act, which will provide preferential duty treatment to certain Philippine-made garments exported to U.S. She said that the garments sector is making a comeback as garments manufacturers from China are transferring their operations here.

The rise in the labor costs and the lack of skilled workers in China provide buyers an alternative investments destination for apparel makers. Its revival will mean creation of about 200,000 jobs and export receipts of $ 3 billion. Reden Miranda, DTI-PRO

DOST equipment thieves are also murderers - DOST chief says

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario G. Montejo likens to murderers the thieves who stole several meters of cables and five pieces of 12 volts batteries at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS) seismic relay stations in Sto. Domingo, Alba.

“These unscrupulous individuals are not only thieves they could also qualify as murderers. By stealing cables of seismic sensors to sell for a measly sum, they jeopardize the safety and put at risk the very lives of the people of Albay, their properties, as well as the resources of the province in the event of a major volcanic activity,” Sec. Montejo expressed his dismay over the theft in the unmanned Phivolcs relay station near Mayon Volcano in Albay.

According to an official report, the seismic station of the DOST- Phivolcs in Legazpi has not received any data from the two relay stations in the Municipality of Sto. Domingo since December 14 last year. Upon inspection of the team from DOST-Phivolcs, they discovered that meters of cables connected to the seismic sensors from the unmanned relay stations and five pieces of 12 volts batteries were missing.

DOST- Phivolcs’ unmanned relay stations are equipped with seismic sensors and radio transceivers that transmit seismic data to the PHIVOLCS central station in Quezon City. These stations transmit vital information on seismic and volcanic activities in the province.

DOST- Phivolcs Director Renato U. Solidum said that the incident has caused 50 percent loss in data transmission. “It is a good thing that Mayon Volcano is not active as of this time,” he told.

Dir. Solidum added that Mayon Volcano is on Alert Level 1 which, in a scale of 0-5, it is considered abnormal. “There were several volcanic activities that were monitored,” explained Dir. Solidum.

However, Dir. Solidum stressed that the incident, although it caused temporary disruption in seismic data transmission, did not hinder the normal operations of the agency in terms of volcanic and seismic monitoring. “The incident did not cripple Phivolcs because other relay stations in Albay are functioning efficiently,” he revealed.

Sec. Montejo urged the people who live near DOST weather and seismic forecasting and monitoring stations to be vigilant in reporting malicious activities that compromise the safety of the people.

“The safety of the people is our primordial concern, which is why the government is aggressively installing weather forecasting and other monitoring equipment like rain gauges and water level sensors critical to monitoring flood prone areas,” he added.

This year, the government is set to install water level sensors and rain gauges in all major river systems in the country as part of the national flood forecasting, monitoring and mitigation program spearheaded by the DOST . Sec. Montejo raised the matter of pilferage of DOST monitoring equipment during yesterday’s interagency meeting on the national flood program convened by the Department of Public Works and Highways and attended by the Departments of Justice, Interior and Local Government, Social Work and Development, and the Environment and Natural Resources. The DILG and the DOJ in particular will look into ways on how to protect these vital monitoring equipment in the local level and immediately prosecute those caught stealing them.

Sec. Montejo also appealed to the community and their leaders to help protect these equipment. “More importantly, people in the areas where monitoring equipment are installed should help safeguard these equipment. After all, their lives, properties, and communities’ safety are all at stake here.”, Montejo said.

President Aquino has certified as urgent the proposed bill in Congress penalizing the stealing of weather and disaster monitoring equipment of the DOST. STII-DOST

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