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Thursday, April 26, 2007

“Celebrities” grace Aklan’s 1st dog show

Kalibo, Aklan –“Celebrities” gathered together on April 26 in a show in Kalibo – Piolo was there, and so were Sandara, Zanjoe, Sam, Marimar, Bamboo, Sunshine and Lucy; even the two Pinoy Big Brother housemates were there, Tina and Bruce. They all graced the early morning show – one of the new features in celebration of Aklan’s 51st anniversary as a separate province from Capiz – a dog show, and yes, the celebrities mentioned above were the stars – they are dogs.

At least 60 of them were entered by their owners to the dog show which involved coming up the makeshift stage in front of the Provincial Capitol for the audience – and the judges to see who had the best coat, the friendliest, the cutest puppy, the most obedient, best dressed, best senior and best native.

The dog show was the first ever to be held in Aklan, and this was to generate awareness and encourage dog owners to be responsible pet owners as well as to give free anti-rabies vaccines to dogs who had never been vaccinated or those scheduled to have their regular vaccinations for this year.

Dogs of all sizes were brought to the show, and many of the audience were amazed to see and to know that in Aklan, many residents own dogs of different breeds. Pet owners came with their Rootwiellers, Pittbulls, Chow Chow, Labradors, Japanese Spitzes, mongrels, Rosset Hounds, Siberian Huskies, Shih Tzus, Dalmatian, Doberman, Mini Pinchers, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Belgian Malinicus, American Bulldogs, Askals, Poodles, German Shepherds, English Bulldogs, etc.

The biggest hit was Bruno, an 8-month-old Chow Chow owned by Emelyn Salazar who was adjudged Grand Champion and with the Best Coat, while Dusty, a Siberian Husky owned by Butch Lachica, was first runner-up and also adjudged to be most friendly; and Kirby, a dachshund owned by Gabriel Briones, second runner up.

Adjudged the cutest puppy was Gwapa, a one-year old Shih Tzu owned by Mildred Peralta; Most Obedient, Lucy, a 1and a half year-old Siberian Husky owned by Butch Lachica, Jr.,; Best Dressed, Sanjo, a 2 year-old Shi Tzu owned by Luningning Isberto and Best Native, Bark, a 4 and a half year-old native mongrel owned by Merlyn Mabasa.

The dog show was a big hit and it was also an opportunity for interested parties to know that caring for a dog especially an extra-ordinary breed is very expensive. Most of the dogs only eat dog food which cost more or less P1,500 a sack; you have to bathe them with special dog soaps and shampoos; and you have to take them for monthly check ups at the animal clinic. Dog consultation, according to one owner, costs P500.00 per visit. Puppies are also very expensive. Bruno’s owner said the Chow Chow was bought as a puppy for P35,000.00; while the Siberian Huskies were bought for P25,000.00 each. When these dogs have puppies in Aklan, a male puppy will be sold for P15,000 while a female will be sold for P18,000.00. Nemo, a Belgian Malinicus is now being trained to be a K 9. Nemo’s father, according to the trainer, is already working at the Kalibo Airport as a K 9.

Records of the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian here, headed by Dr. Gervase Radislao, show that as of February of this year, three persons already died due to rabies. OPVET also reported that 1,172 Aklanons had been bitten by dogs in 2006.

With the dog show, OPVET wanted to emphasize that taking care of dogs is not just simply feeding them but caring for them, bathing them, leashing them and having them vaccinated against rabies. The office also stressed that a pet owner has to take care of his dogs notwithstanding the breed of the dogs, be it native askals or foreign breed.

Currently, Aklan has a total of 55,312 heads of dogs and OPVET, under its Rabies Prevention and Control Program targets to vaccinate 80% of these dogs to eliminate rabies and make Aklan a rabies-free province.

OPVET records show that only 7,671 dogs out of the total population were vaccinated, or 13.8% out of the 80% target as the supply of vaccines is limited and most municipalities have no budget for this program. To attain the 80% target, dogs vaccinated should number 44,249.

It is seen that with the awareness campaign brought about by the dog show and with many dog owners who had their dogs vaccinated on the spot, OPVET records will register a higher vaccination percentage, Aklan will soon be rabies-free and Aklan dog owners would be more responsible in caring for their pets. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Labor situation in Aklan peaceful

Kalibo, Aklan -- Aklan has a peaceful labor situation, according to Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Provincial Head Joselito de La Banda.

De la Banda said DOLE-Aklan regularly conducts inspections of establishments in mainland Aklan and in Boracay Island on proper labor standards and wages and most often, employers voluntarily comply with labor laws and regulations.

“Our thrust now is more on the strengthening of relationships between employers and employees, that’s why the DOLE is scheduling 2 batches of seminars in May and June for Boracay and Kalibo employers,” said De la Banda.

De la Banda said that Boracay employers, mostly composed of hotel and restaurant owners, business shops and other service-oriented establishments, will have their seminar on May 23-24 of this year which will focus on technical assistance, employers’ obligations to their employees including wage benefits, labor relations, human relations and productivity of enterprises in Aklan.

Kalibo employers, composed mostly of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs, will have their seminar schedule in June.

According to De La Banda, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the biggest job providers in the province.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be announcing some good news in terms of non-wage benefits on Labor Day. The benefits will be in the area of basic commodities, on food, housing and health. A special announcement will also be made for government employees.

Salary increases for the private sector will be taken care of by the regional wage boards. The wage boards will review minimum wage levels in June when the one year prescription period between adjustments end.

Pay hikes are opposed by employers, especially among small and medium enterprises, citing that any increase is unaffordable at this time and it may force them to lay off workers. The wage boards will strive to balance the interest of both workers and employers to ensure the financial viability of business establishments.

The President had approved an across-the-board ten percent increase in the basic salary of civil servants effective July, this year and this will cost the government an additional P13 billion in payroll expenses. (PIA/VGVillanueva)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

COMELEC-Kalibo to use new ballot boxes

Kalibo, Aklan -- New ballot boxes will be used for the May 2007 elections in Kalibo.

Francisco Palomar, newly-assigned Election Officer of Aklan’s capital town said at least 175 new ballot boxes will soon be received by the municipality from COMELEC-Manila. He said this is to augment the number of the current ballot boxes because some cannot be used as they contain materials/old ballots which are subjects of election dispute.

Palomar gave the assurance that Kalibo is already prepared for the coming elections and foresees a peaceful and orderly one in this town and in the whole province, with the recent signing of the peace covenant of Aklan candidates which accomplished a 100% attendance.

To ensure that campaign posters are also properly displayed, COMELEC-Kalibo and the Philippine National Police headed by Kalibo PNP Chief Arnold Ardiente went around the town to scrape off or detach illegally - placed posters, Palomar revealed.

Poblacion Kalibo’s common poster areas are located at the Kalibo Plaza in front of the Cathedral and at Roxas Avenue, while barangays have each one common poster areas.

According to Palomar, all Kalibo barangays observed the posting of campaign materials in common poster areas except Mobo, a barangay across the Aklan River.

Meanwhile, Kalibo’s former Election Officer Lorena Tumbagahan is back in Aklan to do the duties of an Acting Provincial Election Supervisor (PES) of COMELEC-Aklan.

Tumbagahan was initially tranfered to Dumarao, Capiz as part of COMELEC’s regulation that an election officer could not stay more than four (4) years in a certain municipality.

Tumbagahan served as Kalibo’s Election Officer for four years and concurrently as OIC-PES of COMELEC-Aklan before her transfer to Dumarao.

Before her COMELEC-Aklan comeback, Tumbagahan found it hard to commute to Dumarao to render her duties as Election Officer and also to report to the provincial office in Aklan to function as OIC-PES.

Tumbagahan also emphasized the preparedness of Aklan for the forthcoming elections. She reminded all registered voters to look for their names in the lists now being posted in bulletin boards in their respective munipalities so they will know their specific precincts.

Tumbagahan revealed that some 50 print and broadcast personalities had been accredited by COMELEC-Aklan for coverage of the May 2007 elections in the province. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Aklan’s poor students work this summer for school tuition

Kalibo, Aklan – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here, in coordination with the provincial government, has once more opened an opportunity to poor students to work this summer so they will have money for enrolment this school year.

The scheme is called Special Proogram for the Employment of Students (SPES).

SPES, according to Vivian R. Solano, Provincial Employment Service Office (PESO) Manager here, is better known as Summer Job and was approved by the Senate on February 6, 1992 and now being implemented yearly.

Aklan Governor Carlito Marquez said the summer job is an opportunity for students to work in local government units and schools so they could earn money from the DOLE and the provincial government to help augment their financial needs come school opening.

At a meeting of SPES coordinators of the different towns, summer jobs were equally divided among the 17 towns and 2 schools within 30 working days which started Aprill 11 and would end May 25.

Marlyn Hernandez, DOLE Regional SPES Focal Person emphasized that students and SPES coordinators must complete registration requirements before submission to DOLE office in Iloilo City.

Solano revealed that some 4,790 Aklanon students had been helped and more are still being helped in their studies by this project through the DOLE, provincial government and PESO-Aklan.

It is seen that with this sustained program of the national and provincial government of helping poor but deserving students obtain college education, poverty in the countryside will be lessened and these young people will have better chances of finding employment.

In a recent statement of Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo, he revealed that the incidence of poverty in the country has continuously been decreasing due to the bullish economy and the progress-oriented and pro-poor programs under the Arroyo administration.

Saludo said over three million Filipinos have so far risen from extreme poverty since 2000, citing a report by the World Bank, the world’s leading institution for development.

The WB estimates that by the end of this year, only some 8.4 percent of Filipinos would be living on a dollar a day – the standard by which the said institution measures poverty. (Venus G. Villanueva/PIA)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Foreign buyers arriving for Aklan’s Fiber fest

Kalibo, Aklan – Ten foreign buyers from Europe will be coming to Aklan to look over Aklan’s export quality products on showcase during the week-long conduct of the 8th Aklan Piña and Fiber Festival set on April 23-27 of this year.

The product showcase will be held at the ABL Sports Complex and at the capitol grounds in Kalibo.

“This means that Aklan Piña and Fiber Festival, now on its 8th year, is really going places,” said DTI-Aklan Sr. Trade and Industry Specialist Philomena Valencia during a radio interview.

Valencia attributed this much-welcome economic development in Aklan as the result of regular participation of Aklan’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other local producers to different exhibits and trade fairs held in malls in Region 6 and in Manila, and at the Manila FAME.

The DTI here revealed that new products will be launched in the showcase this year. One special feature, the Fairtrade Zone, will be set up at the theme setting and the contemporary lifestyle of living spaces by the worldlifestyle designer PJ Arañador.

A total of 100 exhibitors will be showcasing their products this year, composed of loom woven (piña, abaca, raffia) gifts and housewares, furniture, processed foods, garden plants/cutflowers, OTOP (One Town, One Product) of local government units, products from KALAHI (Kapit-Bisig Laban Sa Kahirapan) and DAR-Agrarian Reform Communities.

From generating sales of more that P100,000 when the fiber fest was first launched in 1999, Valencia said the sales of the activity has never gone below the P2 million mark after its 3rd year in 2001, with sales that reached more than P3 million in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Last year, Valencia said the showcase generated a total of P2,267,000.00 sales through direct buyers and booked orders.

Today, Valencia said the nito products from Aklan are consistently the export leader, while the piña products are much more in demand in the domestic market.

Some Aklan SMEs are already exporters. Some have also availed of loans from government banks like the Land Bank and the DBP here for additional business capital.

According to NEDA Director-General Romulo Neri, the lending activities of banks have increased by 10 percent due to the low interest rates on their loans, making it palatable to the prospective borrowers and investors. Furthermore, inflation is at its lowest in 10 years at 2.2 percent, making borrowing from banks more appealing, according to Neri.

This trend of borrowing, he said, will translate to more jobs as more entrepreneurs put up their own businesses.

In Aklan, SMEs provide jobs to Aklanons especially in the barangays by getting their services as weavers, piña planters, fiber extractors and knotters, nito craft makers, food processing workers, etc.

The fiber fest is one of the highlights of Aklan’s week-long celebration as an indepenedent province from Capiz. Officially separated from Capiz by virtue of RA 1414 on April 25, 1956, Aklan is now 51 years old.

The showcase is a project of the provincial government under Governor Carlito S. Marquez, Office of Cong. Florencio T. Mirafkores, Department of Trade and Industry-Aklan headed by Provincial Director Ermelinda Pollentes and the Advocates of Philippine Fair Trade, Inc. (Venus G. Villanueva/PIA)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Aklan to hold 8th Piña & Fiber fest

Kalibo, Aklan – Aklan’s best products of blended loomwoven fabrics, fashion accessories and furnishings from piña, abaca, raffia and other fibers will once again be showcased through the Aklan Piña and Fiber Festival slated April 23-27.

The Fiber Festival is one of the major highlights of the weeklong celebration of marking Aklan’s 51st anniversary as a separate province from Capiz which was realized when then President Ramon Magsaysay signed into law Republic Act 1414 on April 25, 1956.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) here, new products will be launched in this year’s festival. Mixed-media based (indigenous fibers like abaca, seagrass, nito, lampakanay, agzam, rattan, wood, bamboo, steel/iron) gifts and housewares as well as furniture and furnishings will be of latest designs and concepts. Deboned bangus, meat-based processed foods, and bakery products will also be displayed.

Ornamental plants and cutflowers will also be exhibited.

DTI-Aklan further said that special features of the Fiber Fest are the Fairtrade Zone that will be set up at the theme setting and the contemporary lifestyle setting of living spaces by the world-renowned lifestyle designer, PJ Arañador.

Most of the exhibitors will be Small and Medium Enterpreneurs (SMEs) assisted by the DTI but the activity will also be an opportunity for Aklan’s 17 municipalities and several community-based organizations to exhibit their agri-industrial products. Also, a One Town One Product (OTOP) Corner will be mounted to showcase the OTOP of each municipality.

The province of Aklan is acknowledged as the Piña Capital and Handloom Weaving Destination of the country.

A big number of Aklan’s SMEs are engaged in Piña cloth weaving. Piña weaving involves a tedious process – from harvesting native pineapple leaves to scraping, knotting and other sensitive steps up to loomweaving and coming up with the sheer, exquisite piña cloth, considered queen of Philippine fabrics.

The showcase, which expects some 100 exhibitors to take part, is a project of the provincial government of Aklan, the Congressional District Office, DTI-Aklan Provincial Office, and the Advocate of Philippine Fair Trade, Inc. in coordination with the Aklan Piña Manufacturers and Traders Association, Inc. and the Hugod Aklanon Producers Association.

Last year’s Guest of Honor during Aklan’s 50th Anniversary Commemorative Program was President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who acknowledged that Aklan “is the golden province of the country.” (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Foreign investments means confidence in RP

Kalibo, Aklan –The influx of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the country is an indication of investors’ confidence in the Philippines.

This is according to DTI-Aklan Provincial Director Ermelinda P. Pollentes who added that the investments are coming in because the country’s fiscal house is in order and it knows how to handle debts.

Pollentes issued this statement when asked on the effects of the entry of foreign investments and the continuing strength of the peso on the national and local economy.

The effect of the strong peso, according to Pollentes, will be immediately felt on the national economy, however, it will take some time for it to redound on the local economy.

Pollentes also said that even as a strong peso would be good for the economy, its effects would be a different matter to exporters and families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

She emphasized, however, that the national government has put in place some measures to protect the exporters, like the waiving of travel and quarantine.

In Aklan, Pollentes said there are at least 8 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) exporting loom-woven products and crafts to the U.S. and other countries.

The peso breached the P48 per U.S. dollar barrier on Tuesday to close at a 6th year high of P47.95 at the Philippine Dealing System.

According to Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye, FDIs and the strong peso are boosting the country’s economy.

He said this is based on the report of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that FDIs “recorded net inflows of US$357 million, or year-on-year growth of almost 51 percent” in January 2007 alone.

“FDIs are markers of global confidence while the strong peso is the handiwork of Filipino excellence and patriotismexemplified by our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs),” Bunye said. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan soon to be RP’s retirement haven too

New Washington, Aklan –With Boracay Island’s pristine, long beautiful beaches, Aklan’s modern medical facilities big shopping centers and airports of international standard, the province will be the next retirement village site in the Philippines, according to Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) Chairman Edgar Aglipay.

General Aglipay headed the group that came to Aklan Friday, April 13 as part of PRA’s awareness campaign for Western Visayas residents to promote the retirement program, the latest key flagship program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The awareness campaign in Aklan came in the form of a luncheon press conference which was held at Sampaguita Gardens in New Washington town and attended by members of the Aklan media and representatives and heads of national and provincial offices. Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez also joined the activity.

Gen. Aglipay said that in targeting Aklan where Boracay is as one of the country’s retirement haven, the PRA considers the fact that there is already no need for an extensive promotion of the place as Boracay is very popular throughout the world.

“The retirement industry is a big one and the government targets that by 2015 when even a minimal percentage of retirees from the different parts of the world comes to the Philippines, there will be an estimated $44 Billion inflow in the country. With this, 4 million Filipinos will be given jobs and there will be reverse migration – Filipinos no longer need to work abroad as work could be found here with good pay, and they can also be with their families,” Aglipay stressed.

Aglipay also said all these things will have multiplier effects.

Aklan Governor Carlito Marquez, for his part, said he fully supports the program of the Philippine Retirement Authority, and in fact, had already been briefed by Gen. Aglipay on the program earlier.

“We are preparing Boracay Island to be the number 1 tourist destination of the world. In fact, during the recent Holy Week, Boracay Island was cited to be the number 1 tourist destination of the country for the period, with Cebu and Bohol at its heels. We are envisioning Boracay or Nabas as a retirement village site and other areas as long as the place is located along the tourism zone. Our local government units are preparing for this opportunity because of tourism receipts. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is also very optimistic with our place, citing Aklan as the golden province of the country,” Marquez revealed.

Along with Aglipay’s group was Bureau of Immigration Commissioner and PRA trustee Enrique Galang, who said the retirement program is good for the economy. Caregivers, nurses, English teachers (in the case of Korean retirees) will be much in demand in retirement villages, according to Galang.

“Currently, retirement villages in the Philippines are found in Cebu, Baguio and Manila. I happened to ask some retirees of how they feel about the Philippines and they can only say ‘Paradise’. It’s only in the Philippines, they say, where they can witness the rising and setting of the sun regularly, unlike in their countries in Europe or in the U.S.,” Galang said.. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Aklan has 459 candidates for local posts

Kalibo, Aklan -- A total of 459 candidates running for various positions in the May 14, ’07 polls have filed their Certificates of Candidacies (COCs) at the Provinccial and Municipal COMELEC offices here.

The certified list released by the COMELEC revealed that two candidates are running for Representative of the Lone District of Aklan; four are running for Governor; two for Vice Governor and 22 for Sangguniang Panlalawigan Eastern and Western Districts.

Forty-five (45) candidates are running for mayor of Aklan’s 17 municipalities while 37 are running for vice mayoralty positions.

Three hundred forty-seven (347) are running for Sangguniang Bayan posts. Five vice mayoralty candidates are running unopposed.

Four mayoralty candidates are spouses of incumbent mayors who are all three termers - Altavas candidate, Kathryne Refol is the wife of Mayor Denny Refol; Batan candidate Delfina Ramos is the wife of Mayor Herodutos Ramos; Numancia candidate Elvirita Templonuevo is the wife of Mayor Ernesto Templonuevo; while Buruanga candidate Quezon Labindao is the husband of Mayor Concepcion Labindao. These four mayoralty candidates are all running under the KAMPI party. Of the 45 mayoralty candidates, 13 are running under KAMPI.

Most Aklan candidates are running under the Nacionalista Party numbering P112; KAMPI, 96; LAKAS-CMD, 85, Liberal Party, 55, and PDP-Laban, 30.

Fifty-two (52) candidates are running as independents. Others are running under the Partido Masang Pilipino, United Opposition (UNO), UNO-PDP Laban, UNO-NP and Lakas ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP).

Incumbent Representative Florencio T. Miraflores who is up for reelection, is running under the KAMPI party while incumbent Governor Carlito S. Marquez is running under the LAKAS banner. His running mate, incumbent Vice Governor Ronquillo C. Tolentino is also running under LAKAS.

Anthony Acevedo, the other candidate for Congressman/Representative, is running under the PMP-PDP Laban party while the three other gubernatorial bets – like Kareen Galvan, is running under PMP; Maria Bettina Mobo Garcia, PDP-Laban, and Victoria Meñez Ramos, UNO.

Vice-gubernatorial candidate Gabrielle Calizo, who served as Aklan’s Lone District Representative from 2001-2004, is running under the Nacionalista Party.

The province of Aklan has a total of 273,677 registered voters. Towns with the biggest number of voters are Kalibo, the capital town with 36,162 followed by Ibajay with 22,116 and New Washington, 21,891. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Korean shipbuilding firm opens jobs, welcomes Aklanon applicants

Kalibo, Aklan –If all other major shipyards and foreign companies follow suit and invest in the Philippines just like what the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Contruction Company (HHIC-Phil. Inc.) did, Filipinos will never lack for jobs and their families will no longer go hungry, as long as they have the necessary skills and are willing to work.

HHIC-Phil. Inc. is a major company known for shipbuilding in Korea and now expanding its operations at Subic Freeport Zone in Zambales. It is now in need of some 2,248 workers and has made contacts in Aklan for job applicants for various positions and skills related to ship building.

Vivian R. Solano, Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Manager here said Pyung Jong Yu, Business Department and Human Resource Manager of HHIC-Phil. Inc. recently contacted Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez about their company’s need of applicants with skills and experiences in operating various cranes like overhead, gantry, bridge travel, Goliath, Jib, tower and hydraulic; transporter, lifts, and signal men.

Also needed are maintenance staff – 50 mechanical and 50 electricians, 20 plumbers, compressor operators, engineering and administrative staff.

The engineering staff must be 18-35 years of age, college graduate with major in electrical, plumbing, mechanical and marine industry while the administrative staff should be a college graduate, computer literate specializing in MS Excel, Word and Power Point, has bookkeeping skills and with experiences in Human Resource Department, Procurement, warehouse management, etc.

The shipyard also needs trainee applicants who are 18-35 years old, high school graduate or college level and skilled in welding, cutting and piping jobs. Two thousand (2,000) trainees are needed every quarter and they will undergo three months training and enjoy training allowance.

Interested applicants, said Gov. Marquez, must go to PESO-Aklan with their resume, ID pictures and employment certificates.

In a related development, the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) remains confident the country is still a competitive business destination for Japan despite issues of high cost of labor, telecommunication, electricity and taxes as reflected in the 17th Survey of Investment-Related Cost Comparison in Major Cities and Regions in Asia.

The survey also revealed information and communication technology and automotive sectors remain an enticing investment opportunity for Japanese firms because of the pluses like human resources and lower office space rent despite relatively high basic charges for landline and mobile phones, as well as corporate income taxes.

A total of 269 Japanese firms are now in the Philippines, mostly inside export processing zones engaged in electronics, semiconductors and automotive parts. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan school kids, kins not to go hungry this summer

Kalibo, Aklan –Some 1,561 school children in Aklan’s 3 lower-class municipalities here will not suffer pangs of hunger this summer, including their families, thanks to the Food for School Program Bigas Para Sa Mag-aaral at Pamilya.

Based on National Food Authority-Aklan data, a total of 23,415 kilograms of good quality rice were delivered recently by this food agency to 37 primary and elementary schools in Lezo, Tangalan and Buruanga and distributed to Grade l pupils.

The rice supply for these school kids, according to NFA-Aklan Assistant Provincial Manager Erna Young, will last for 15 days.

Young said this is the fourth delivery of the NFA to these schools, which started December of 2005 for Kinder and Grade 1 pupils. With the program now focused only on Grade 1 pupils, the number of recipients in Aklan has lessened, from 2,388 to 1,561. Under a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Education, the rice supply is received in schools by the principal or his/her authorized representative in behalf of the Grade 1 pupils, Young said.

The Food-for-School program remains high on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Order of Battle against poverty. She has recently ordered the release of an additional P4B to help sustain the fight against hunger.

The President has likewise called on various sectors to help with the government’s hunger mitigation program. The local churches, religious organizations and other religious groups are in the forefront of the first line of defense against hunger, particularly during the summer vacation.

Under the program, rice and basic food items are given daily to schoolchildren. This will be modified to a weekly trek by the schoolchildren to their nearest churches or church organizations who will distribute a week’s supply of the basic food items, thereby feeding not only the children but their parents as well. Also included in the hunger mitigation program is the Food-for-Work scheme where the poor and unemployed are given community-centered jobs.

President Arroyo has given instructions to ensure transparency in the use of funds against hunger. (PIA/VGVillanueva)

Monday, April 2, 2007

AFP has limited role in ’07 elections

Kalibo, Aklan – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has a limited part in the May 2007 elections.

“The AFP will only be deployed in areas of critical concern. These are places where there are movements of armed groups, goons or lawless elements which might be used by politicians,” said Capt. Antonio Tumnog, Information Officer of 47th IB based at Camp Jizmundo, Libas, Banga, Aklan in a radio interview.

Capt. Tumnog stressed that their first and foremost part in this election period is to exercise their right to vote, just like any ordinary Filipino citizen.

The 47th IB is also closely coordinating with the Aklan Police Provincial Office here and the Commission on Elections for the conduct of honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

Capt. Tumnog said that as of this time, no Aklanon candidate has complained of having been contacted by the CPP-NPA for permit to campaign fees although he revealed that other provinces in Panay have reports already.

According to the 47th IB, it has received reports that candidates running for election in other Panay provinces are being charged of permit to campaign fees ranging from P10,000 – P70,000 for those running for Sangguniang Bayan/municipal councilor posts; P70,000 – 200,000 for mayor and P50,000 – P1,000,000 for those running for Governor/Congressman.

Capt. Tumnog bared that although there are no records yet of demand letters for permit to campaign fees in Aklan reaching local candidates, what is ongoing is the CPP-NPA’s charging/extortion of fees from Aklanon stallowners. He appealed to Aklanons not to succumb to this form of extortion.

Meanwhile, with the start of the campaign period for local elections, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said this is a signal that Philippine democracy is in full bloom as all parties, persuasions and ideas come into play to crystallize a vibrant nation moving forward to a brighter future.

“We urge all candidates to keep the issues at a high level and focus on the interest of the people in a platform-led campaign – and employ the media as a means of enlightenment rather than insidious attack,” Sec. Bunye said.

Bunye emphasized the Philippines is on the verge of an economic takeoff that can be accelerated by a collective show of force for Philippine democracy in all its positive aspects, untainted by guns, goons and gold. (PIA/VGVillanueva)

UNICEF: Children most vulnerable to bird flu

Children will be the most vulnerable victims if bird flu or Avian flu enters the Philippines.

This is because based on records, half of the worldwide number of human cases felled by bird flu involved chidren, and one third of the number reported dead due to the disease were children, according to UNICEF.

Children, according to Nilo Yacat, Senior Programme Monitoring Assistant of UNICEF are most vulnerable to bird flu as their bodies have low immunity to viruses.

Yacat shared this information as one of the resource speakers of the seminar workshop on “Stay Bird Flu Free Philippines” for PIA Information Officers held March 19-21 at the Richville Hotel, Mandaluyong City.

The seminar-workshop was sponsored by UNICEF and the government of Japan - UNICEF because of its mandate/concern for children worldwide, and Japan, as the Philippines is its source of imported chicken and in support to emergency response against bird flu or avian influenza.

With competent resource speakers coming from the Bureau of Animal Industry, DA; Department of Health, and UNICEF, the seminar-workshop aimed to drive down the point that as of now, the Philippines is still bird-flu free, bird flu is very dangerous but preventable, the economy will suffer much once bird flu enters the country, and the PIA information officers have a critical role in creating awareness about bird flu for better understanding by the common folks as well as the risks and danger to health, lives and the country’s economy.

“If the country is stricken with bird flu, there will be severe financial lossess and the country’s poultry industry will suffer,” said Dr. Rosemarie Antegro of the Bureau of Animal Industry, DA, one of the seminar-workshop’s resource speakers.

As of February 2007, Antegro said there are 273 human cases caused by bird flu and 167 recorded deaths already. Fifty-two countries are now affected and millions were lost due to destroyed poultry and poultry products.

An article from Bird Flu Updates published by the Bureau of Animal Industry revealed that of the 20 identified priority areas or hotspots which are regularly being monitored and under surveillance, two are in Western Visayas: Himamaylan in Negros Occidental and Roxas City in Capiz. The priority areas were identified based on the presence of transient migratory birds as well as the presence of highly concentrated domestic duck/chicken population in the area.

Currently, only the Philippines, Brunei and Singapore remain untainted by bird flu, and for a “Bird flu Free Philippines”, workshops understaken by PIA information officers in the activity included devising strategies in pushing and heightening bird flu or Avian Influenza prevention awareness even if the Philippines is bird flu-free through story ideas and suggestions to enhance campaign against bird flu; and action planning.

The UNICEF, for its part, is soon to come up with television, radio and outdoor advertisements (billboards) to emphasize the importance of keeping the Philippines bird flu-free as well as to stress its detrimental impact on the lives and livelihood of the Filipinos as well as on the country’s economy. (PIA/VGVillanueva)