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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dengue claims 3 in Aklan, cases decreasing

Kalibo, Aklan -- Three young lives had been claimed by dengue in Aklan since its outbreak here, but health officials assure cases are now declining.

According to Dr. Maria Magpusao, Chief of the Technical Services Division of the Provincial Health Office here said based on their records, the month of August had the highest number of dengue cases with 198 while from September 1 to 22, there were 145 cases. In June, there were 23 cases of dengue in the province, while July registered 125 cases.

Dr. Magpusao said the figures have not gone beyong outbreak level compared with the past years’ record of the province, however, she advised that patients suspected of having dengue must seek medical attention right away.

“If laboratory findings reveal that the patient’s platelets have gone down, the patient must be admitted in a hospital. If after 6 hours of supportive management, the platelets keep on going down, the patient should be transported to Iloilo City for plasma transfusion,” Dr. Magpusao said.

Dr. Magpusao said a dengue patient could not be transfused with whole blood because he might experience a volume overload. Some patients who need plasma transfusions needed to be brought to Iloilo City because Aklan has no plasma freezer, nor has it the machine to separate plasma from other blood components.

Magpusao said patients who died of dengue in Aklan include a 10-year old boy child Altavas, a 17-year old student from Numancia and a baby from Malay. When inspected by provincial health officials, Dr. Magpusao said all areas where there were dengue deaths had the presence of the dengue mosquito vector, aedes aegypti. The households also stored water in uncovered containers which was used as breeding areas by the deadly mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes also breed in plants like bromeliads. We already advised households and schools to get rid of their bromeliads, because the pineapple-like plant stores rainwater in its center, which is used as breeding ground of mosquitoes,” Dr. Magpusao revealed.

Dr. Magpusao revealed that during her team’s visits to barangays, they discovered that whole bamboos used as post for fences of houses, when filled with rain water, are also used as breeding grounds of dengue mosquitoes. She advised house owners to fill the hollowed posts with soil or sand so mosquitoes could not breed there.

The Department of health (DOH) has issued a nationwide dengue fever alert and has asked hospitals to designate fast lanes for dengue patients. According to a DOH report, Region 6, where Aklan belongs, has the most number of dengue victims, followed by Region 7 and NCR. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Aklan town is region’s most outstanding municipality

Kalibo, Aklan – For implementing innovative projects and services in support of the nutrition programs of the government, the town of Nabas, located in the western part of Aklan was adjudged as Region 6’S Outstanding Municipality during the 18th Nutrition Congress held recently at the Grand Hotel in Iloilo City.

As the region’s most outstanding municipality for three consecutive years, Nabas town is a Consistent Regional Winner on Nutrition (CROWN) awardee and is to maintain this status for three years. If it maintains this status, Nabas will be awarded the National Honor Award, the highest award given to municipalities and provinces with outstanding performance in implementing nutrition programs. Kalibo, the province’ capital town, and Aklan itself, had been recipients of this awards already, according to Crescini Roxas, ND II of the Provincial Health Office here.

Roxas said Nabas edged out its rivals from other provinces in Region 6 because its nutrition program has the full support of the local leaders and it has instituted innovative projects for nutrition to improve the health of its constituents especially the children.

Roxas said Nabas is the only municipality in Aklan which has a salt iodizing machine to ensure that Nabasnons have ample supply of iodized salt to prevent iodine-deficiency among its constituents. It also produces insumix, a nutritious but affordable mix of food for young children. All barangays in Nabas have assigned midwives, with their salaries paid by the local government.

Roxas also said that residents of the municipalities are holders of green passports – another innovative program introduced by the Department of Interior and Local Government. Under the program, a green card is given to a family if it has met the health requirements stipulated in the program -the children are all fully-immunized; the household has a sanitary toilet, the family cooperates with government’s other programs, and maintains a backyard vegetable garden for their daily supply of fresh vegetables and at the same time to augment family income.

Practicing backyard gardening or farming is now being pushed by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture to support households’ daily needs in vegetables.

BPI Officer-In-Charge Joel Rudinas said 766,863 households in the country have tapped the Programnag Gulayan Para sa Masa, located in the 30 priority provinces that were assessed by the DA’s Hunger Mitigation Task Force.

Under the program, DA Regional Field Units are providing seeds, training and services to all interested households, he added.

In Region 6, only the province of Antique is included in this program, according to Aklan Provincial Agriculturist Delano T. Tefora.

“However, if local governments here opt to spend for the institutionalization or practice of backyard gardening to help mitigate hunger, it would be much better,” according to Tefora.

Tefora said backyard gardening in Aklan households will also help lower prices of vegetable in Aklan public markets now. Prices of some vegetables, based on OPA’s latest report, have gone up here.

Aklan leaders here hope the Nabas experience will be replicated in all municipalities here, especially the backyard gardening practice. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Friday, October 5, 2007

ATO needs trainees for air navigation, basic air traffic service courses

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Air Transportation Office (ATO) will be conducting a competitive examination to select trainees for the 13th Basic Air Traffic Service Course to be held in Manila Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC), Merville Road, Pasay City. Graduate of this course shall qualify for the position of Air Traffic Controller and/or Airways Communicator.

According to Engr. Percy Malonesio, Airport Manager of ATO at the Kalibo Airport here, qualified and selected Aklanon applicants who will pass the competitive examination, interview and medical/physical examination shall be trained by ATO at no cost; however, Maloneio emphasized that there will be no allowance or other form of compensation during the training period.

Examination is on October 27, 2007 in Manila, Mactan, Laoag, Puerto Prinsesa, Legaspi, Iloilo, Kalibo, Roxas, Tacloban, Zamboanga, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.

To qualify, applicants should not be more than 26 years old on the day of the examination, must be in good health, and a holder of a Baccalaureate degree and must be computer literate.

Application forms may be secured from the Personnel Section, ATO, MIA Road for Manila applicants. For Aklan applicants, forms could be obtained from ATO, Kalibo Airport, Pook.

Applicants must submit a copy of College Diploma/Transcript of Records, Birth Certificate, Police Clearance, Barangay Clearance, and NBI Clearance together with the duly-filled-up application form not later that 5:00 PM, October 24 to the Airport Manager, Kalibo Airport.

On the other hand, ATO also needs trainees for its 35th Air Navigation Systems Specialist Course. ATO will also hold a competitive examination to select trainees for this course to be held at the CATC.

According to Malonesio, graduates of this training course shall qualify for the position of Air Navigation Systems Specialist I. Just like the other training, qualified applicants will have no allowance for the duration of the training.

The examination date is November 14, 2007, with the tests to be held in Manila, Mactan, Laoag, Puerto Prinsesa, Legaspi, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Zamboanga Airports.

Applicants should be at least 21 years old but not more than 29 years old on the day of the examination, must be physically and mentally fit, must be single, natural born citizen of the Philippines and of good moral character; must be a graduate of any of the following course: Bachelor’s degree in Electrical, Electronics and Communications, Mechanical or Computer Engineering and must be a Career Service Professional or RA 1080.

Application forms can be secured from the Airport Manager, ATO. Applicants must submit a copy of College Diploma, Transcript of Records, NBI clearance, Police Clearance, and other required documents together with the application form to the Airport Manager for Aklan applicants not later than October 19, 2007.

Malonesio said the training for successful applicants could last for more or less six to eight months. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

New airport terminal at Kalibo airport rushed with more tourists brought by intl flights

Kalibo, Aklan – By 2008, there will be a new airport terminal at Kalibo Airport to accommodate arriving passengers in the province brought by international flights from Incheon, South Korea and China by plane companies like the Asian Spirit, Philippine Airlines, Pacific Pearl and very soon, China Eastern.

This is according to Engr. Percy Malonesio, Airport Manager of the Air Transportation Office here at Kalibo Airport.

Engr. Malonesio revealed that currently, Asian Spirit directly lands from Incheon, South Korea at the Kalibo Airport on a daily basis except Thursdays, bringing in some 150 Korean tourists each flight. Asian Spirit’s international flight from South Korea to Aklan started May 11 of this year.

The Phiippine Airlines, on the other hand, just started ferrying in tourists from Pudong, Shanghai, China last October 1 and 2. The first flight brought in 93 passengers while the second flight had 101 passengers. Malonesio also said that Pacific Pearl and China Eastern airlines will soon have their own flight landings at the Kalibo Airport.

The new airport terminal, according to Malonesio, has already a budget of P84 million, released as promised by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and announced here by Congressman Ignacio Arroyo and Presidential Management Staff Chief Cerge Remonde during their visits to the province.

“The bidding process for the new airport terminal building will be held November of this year, and hopefully, by next year, the building will be finished,” Malonesio revealed.

Malonesio also said the 100 meters expansion of the airport runway will also be underway, so domestic and international flights could land easily in the airport.

With the daily international flights coming in through Asian Spirit and with more brought in by other airlines in the days to come, Malonesio said the Air Transportation Office in Aklan is being extra-careful and vigilant in implementing anti-terroristic measures to protect leaving and arriving domestic and foreign passengers at the Kalibo Airport. He said ATO holds regular meetings with the PNP, the transport groups, the Aviation Security Group and other stakeholders to take up anti-terror preventive measures.

The international flights also caused the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, the Bureau of Customs, and the Quarantine to establish regular desks and staff in the airport. Quarantine has four divisions to take care of specific concerns: plants, fisheries, animals and people. The quarantine division is on alert here, according to Malonesio, with the threat of bird flu, and the problem affecting ornamental palms and coconuts here, which might be brought to mainland Aklan through entry at the Kalibo Airport. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

PCA, Aklan local officials join hands against Brontispa

Kalibo, Aklan -- The infestation of Brontispa on ornamental palms and coconut trees in the world-famous resort island of Boracay Island has made Aklan’s local government officials, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and other government agencies pool their resources and efforts together to eradicate this dreaded pest which has started its destruction spree in the island.

According to Plevy Raco, PCA-Aklan Provincial Head, 80% of ornamental palms and coconut trees in Barangay Balabag in Boracay Island is already affected while in Manoc-Manoc, another barangay, the infestation is at 50%. Along the beachfront, however, she said 100% of the coconut trees are already infested.

Barangay Yapak is not affected yet, but Raco said they are already implementing preventive measures to keep the Brostispa pest from infesting the coconut trees in the area.

Based on information materials furnished by the PCA, Brostispa feeds on young coconut leaves. Young leaves appear burned or scorched resulting from the feeding damage of the coconut leaf beetle. It is a new malady of coconut in the country, presumably brought here through importation of ornamental palms. It causes great damage to seedlings and mature coconut trees and ornamental palms thereby killing the young spears and eventually the whole tree.

One method the PCA is using now to eradicate the pest is by trunk injection, according to Raco, using Actara emulsifiable granules, which is done by boring holes in the coconut trunks.

“The provincial government through Governor Carlito Marquez extended assistance by shouldering the wages of laborers who are boring coconut trunks for injection. For his part, Malay Mayor Ciceron Cawaling has already issued an order banning ornamental palms from entering and exiting the island of Boracay. Barangay councils in the island also issued certifications so that PCA personnel can enter resort establishments to inspect ornamental palms and implement treatment, if the palms in the areas show signs of infestation, while the Bureau of Plant Industry is implementing strict quarantine measures to regulate entries of ornamental plants in the island,” Raco revealed.

Another method the PCA is employing to eradicate Brontispa is the propagation of earwigs, an insect that eats the larva of Brontispa. However, Raco said the PCA is short in number of this insect, and is planning to seek the assistance of Aklan State University (ASU) here to study the fast propagation or culture of these insects to counter Brontispa. The PCA is also planning to seek the assistance of the stakeholders in Boracay to help the agency in purchasing Actara so all palms and coconuts in the island will be injected.

Presently, Boracay Island has more or less 15,000 coconut trees, according to PCA records. The PCA, the provincial government and the local government in Malay and other agencies like the Department of Agriculture here are in a rush to prevent Brontispa from reaching mainland Aklan.

“The pest must not enter mainland Aklan, because once this happens, the great losers will be the small coconut farmers, who tend the trees for copra. Thre thriving virgin coconut oil industry will also be affected, including other coco-based business,” Raco said.

Aklan, according to Raco, is number one in coconut density in Western Visayas, and the biggest copra-producer in the region. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan governor says statistics important in eradication of poverty, hunger

Kalibo, Aklan -- Having Aklan’s accurate data on the province’ poverty threshold, employment and unemployment rate, population, agricultural produce and other information that involves the use of statistics is vital for poverty and hunger eradication in the province.

This is according to Aklan governor Carlito S. Marquez who recently led the initial meeting as part of the province’ celebration of National Statistics Month observed nationwide this month of October. The meeting was held at the Conference Room of the Provincial Guest House here.

The meeting was attended by heads and representatives of national government agencies and provincial offices who were invited by the provincial government to plan out activities for the month-long celebration.

Gov. Marquez said it is important to know the accurate number of the province’ poor families so the provincial government can formulate the right programs and services for these people to bring down incidence of poverty and hunger.

Theme of this year’s Statistics Month celebration is “Statistics and Actions: A Road to a Better Life Through the Millennium Development Goals”. Poverty and hunger eradication is one of the six MDG priority areas of concern.

Other MDG concerns include the achievement of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality, reduction of child mortality, improvement of women’s reproductive health, and combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases.

In the province, some activities that will be held for the 18th Statistics Month celebration include hanging of streamers, a Thanksgiving Mass, motorcade by all participating agencies around Kalibo, Statistical Exhibit, Progress Report Forum on the Millenium Development Goals, Statistical Quiz and radio and cable television guestings by representatives of participating agencies.

Most of the activities will be held October 16, while the closing activity, a Statistical Forum, will be held on October 25, according to Engr. Roger M. Esto, Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator who presided in the initial meeting together with Gov. Marquez.

For this year’s celebration of Statistics Month, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno is urging all local chief executives to conduct simple but meaningful activities, citing the importance and value of statistics in the development efforts of the national and local governments.

“In order to assess our progress and the effectiveness of our programs on poverty eradication in achieving this goal, we need hard data and statistics,” the DILG Chief explained.

The observance of National Statistics Month each year is aimed to promote, enhance and instill awareness and appreciation on the importance of statistics in the formulation of policies for growth and development as well as elicit the cooperation and support of the general public in upgrading the quality of standards of statistics in the country. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wanted: earwig catchers for Aklan’s battle with brontispa

Kalibo, Aklan – Aklan’s battle with Brontispa, a coconut leaf beetle now destroying ornamental palms and coconut trees in Boracay Island continues with the Philippine Coconut Authority here planning to fight the coconut pest with another insect – the earwig.

The earwig, according to the PCA, also known as “sipit-sipit” in the island, is a friendly insect which feeds on the larva of Brontispa. Great hope is pinned on this insect by concerned agencies like the PCA, the Department of Agriculture and the local government units here to totally eradicate Brontispa, which has destroyed 80% or ornamental palms in Barangay Balabag in Boracay; 50% of palms in Manoc-manoc, another Boracay barangay, and 100% of coconuts in the beach front.

These agencies are racing against time to prevent the dreaded pest from reaching mainland Aklan, because once this happens, the province’ copra industry and other coconut-based enterprises could be destroyed.

Propagation of the earwig in Aklan, however, according to PCA Provincial Head Plevy Raco, has a snag – the short supply of the insects here, which dwell in coconut trees which are seldom harvested or cleaned.

Raco said that in four months’ time, they hope to turn in earwigs to battle with Brontispa and stop the latter’s infestation of palms and coconuts in the island. However, the scarcity of the insects for propagation is a problem, so the PCA is contemplating to look for expert earwig catchers in the province.

To propagate the insects, PCA is now planning to seek the assistance and expertise of the Aklan State University here.

Currently, the PCA’s Brontispa-eradication methods include trunk injection, spraying of chemicals to kill the larva of brontispa, and pruning and burning of infested plant parts.

For her part, fearing that Brontispa could wipe out the P40-billion coconut industry of the country, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recently issued Executive Order No. 664 ordering the Department of Agriculture to “undertake emergency measures” to prevent the coconut leaf beetle from spreading in 68-coconut producing provinces.

In response to PGMA’s EO, DA Secretary Yap and other officials are having meetings with local chief executives and police officers to draw up the mechanics of enforcing emergency measures ordered by the President to contain the invasive coconut pest.

The DA has put under quarantine Metro Manila and 26 provinces infested with the coconut leaf beetle as part of these emergency steps to save the Philippine coconut industry.

Under Special Quarantine Order No. 1 issued by the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), the department has likewise banned imports of palm seed nuts and seedlings from over two dozen countries with known or reported Brontispa infestations.

The provinces placed under quarantine are Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Aurora, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Quezon, Rizal, Southern Palawan, Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Iloilo, Aklan, Guimaras, Bohol, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Zamboanga, Bukidnon and Davao.

Movement of palm seedlings, plants and germinated seed nuts from these provinces to non-infected areas is prohibited by the new BPI order, unless such planting materials are covered by a transport permit issued by the BPI attesting that these have gone through strict quarantine measures.

In the wake of the Brontispa infestation in Boracay Island, Malay mayor Ciceron Cawaling has ordered the no entry, no exit policy of ornamental palms to and from the island. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan governor to info officers: provide correct, true information to constituents

Kalibo, Aklan -- It is up for duly designated public information officers to provide correct and true information to constituencies.

This was Aklan governor Carlito Marquez’ challenge to officers and members of the Aklan Public Information Officers Association (APIOA) here he inducted recently at the Gov. Corazon Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center in his keynote message.

Governor Marquez said the felt need for an effective information dissemination program, especially in the government, takes greater significance today in the light of the very rapid advancements in information technology.

“The speed by which information is carried by different media into our very homes is also the speed by which misinformation, disinformation, and all forms of deception are fed to the credible,” Governor Marquez stressed to the information officers.

According to him, it has become an accepted fact that information dissemination is a most important, critical component of any undertaking, especially of a government which puts a high premium on the approval of the constituency it seeks to serve, which he referred to as “approval rating”.

Governor Marquez cited the one-entry, one exit policy in Boracay Island as a test on the effectivity of information dissemination. He said the policy was greeted with loud protests from certain sectors, but after the province’ effective information dissemination efforts, the protesters saw the light, saw the need for security to ensure the safety of tourists and saw the need for a beach clear of pump boats and their oil and other wastes so tourists can enjoy swimming.

“One act of terrorism, one small bomb exploding in the island and tourists will stop coming. And that will be the end of our tourism industry, the goose that lays the golden eggs. This illustrates how important information dissemination is, which in fact, is in line with our policy of transparency. The people must know so they will understand and thereby appreciate what we are doing and extend cooperation, even assistance, towards the successful implementation of government programs.

Gov. Marquez also commended the APIOA for conducting a forum on Good Governance on the very day of their induction.

“That’s the catchword of the day. Good governance - the yardstick by which our constitutencies measure the capabilities of local as well as national leaders. But good governance is not the sole responsibility of our leaders, whether elected, appointed, or designated. It is as much the responsibility of the rank and file, the bureaucracy, the so-called civil servants who operate the government machinery,” the Aklan governor said.

The forum on Good Governance was held prior to the induction program, which had Max Zurbito Jr., former APIOA President and currenty SP-Aklan Secretary Odon Bandiola and former Vice Governor Roquillo C. Tolentino as speakers.

Inducted APIOA Officers for 2007-2009 were Maribel S. Tolentino of Pag-IBIG-Aklan, President; Sally Villasis of Aklan State University, Vice President; Deana G. Ruiz of the Department of Trade and Industry, Secretary; Judith T. Tindog of National Food Authority, Treasurer; Ulysses V. Espartero, Prov’l Governor’s Office, Asst. Secretary-Treasurer; PO1 Nida L. Gregas, Aklan Police Provincial Office, Auditor; Ferdinand R. Macogue, Civil Service Commission, Business Manager; and Leopoldo C. Sanchez Jr. of LGU-Numancia, Press Relations Officer. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)