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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PHO advice to Aklanons: Don't buy unlabeled repacked milk; infant formula from China

Kalibo, Aklan –The Provincial Health Office (PHO) here has called on all Aklanons to refrain from buying unlabeled repacked milk as well as infant formula coming from China in the wake of melamine contamination crisis which had caused sickness and deaths in babies in China who consumed melamine-laced milk.

Melamine, according to Dr. Emma T. Cortes, Provincial Health Officer II, is a toxic substance which when ingested or drank through milk can cause kidney stones.

"When kidney stones grew big, it will obstruct the flow of urine. Urine contains toxic substances eliminated by the body through the kidney which should go out of the body. Anything toxic that can't be eliminated by the body will affect the kidney, which will cause kidney failure," Dr. Cortes explained.

Presently, Dr. Cortes, along with other PHO staff, are going around grocery stores and supermarkets in Aklan to see if there are existing stocks of milk formulas from China for the meantime that the Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD) is yet to come out with its findings on the milk products it is currently testing.

Dr. Cortes called on the public to be vigilant and report to her office and the BFAD of the presence in stores of infant formulas from China, should they find any. Along with her call, she also advised mothers to breastfeed their babies, saying breast milk is the best, the safest, the most nutritious and the most complete food.

In a recent advisory, BFAD directed all licensed importers and/or distributors of registered milk products sourced from China to immediately stop temporarily from further importing, distributing, selling and offering for sale Chinese milk products due to the melamine contamination crisis. The ban on the importation and sale would be in effect until the bureau issues a notice assuring the public of the products' safety and fitness for human consumption.

The BFAD advisory, likewise called on local officials to conduct investigation on the unauthorized importation of infant formula and milk products manufactured in China.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita ordered the Health and Trade departments and the Bureau of Customs to intensify their watch against the entry of melamine-contaminated milk from China into the country. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Veteran broadcaster cites role of VAT in propping up RP economy

Kalibo, Aklan – The economy of the Philippines is still strong despite global upheaval caused by the collapse in the U.S. of an investment firm because of Value-Added Tax (VAT).

Augusto C. Tolentino, Station Manager of IBC-DYRG here, the Philippine economy is strong because of VAT which helped the country get on with its programs like food-for-school, power subsidy, microfinance, scholarships and college loans and fuel discounts to name a few.

Tolentino is also the current IBC Regional Officer-in-Charge for Western Visayas and Mindanao and Station Manager of TV 12 Iloilo.

Prior to his current positions, he also served as Station Manager of RMN-DYKR, a pioneer radio station in Aklan.

According to him, VAT served as the buffer of the country's economy.

"Many opposed VAT, but now its gains can be felt through subsidies given by the government to members of various disadvantaged sectors in our society, which somehow alleviate their condition," Tolentino said.

The challenge, according to him, now that prices of fuel have decreased in the world market, is for dealers and transportation groups to lower their fares.

"We Filipinos have strong survival instincts. Despite the financial crisis experienced in the United States, the country can move on, through the country's effective tax system which helps finance various government programs and projects. However, we must also help ourselves and not just depend on the government most of the time," Tolentino said.

Meanwhile, PGMA expressed confidence that the government's fiscal reforms will allow the country to withstand the effects of the financial crisis. She said this during the government's mid-year economic briefing.

The global economy has hit the Philippines hard and had painful impact on every Filipino through higher prices of food, fuel and rice.

The Philippines was not the only one in Asia affected by the turmoil in the U.S. market, citing the dismal growth in the economies of Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.

The country has remained resilient because of the government's reform in the tax system. The funds raised by the government through the value-added tax (VAT) will help cushion the country from the global hike in food and oil prices as well as the effects of the meltdown of the US financial system. It has given the country the funds to invest in targeted reliefs to the most poor through programs aimed at relieving the high price of energy and food. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shelter, cash assistance from DSWD for Aklan typhoon victims now more than P10 M

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development's shelter and cash assistance extended to victims of Typhoon Frank in Aklan has reached P10,218,200.00 as of September.
According to Janet T. Calizo, Project Development Officer II of DSWD-Aklan, the assistance from the office is broken down as follows: Shelter Assistance for Kalibo for 43 beneficiaries at P50,000 each, P2,150,000; Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) for 455 beneficiaries from Kalibo's 13 barangays at P10,000 each, P4,550,000; ESA for 191 beneficiaries of Bubog, Numancia at P10,000 each, P1,910,000; and Cash for Work Program in Kalibo with 480 beneficiaries, P1,252,900; and Numancia, 190 beneficiaries amounting to P355,300.00.
Calizo said the releases made by the DSWD for emergency shelter assistance were only for Category A beneficiaries. She said however, that DSWD Field Office 6 is trying very hard to come up with cash releases for more victims whose houses were totally damaged.
ESA has three categories – A, B and C. For Category A, beneficiaries will receive P10,000.00; B, P7,500 and C, P5,000.00.
Based on the final report of the PDCC here, there were 11,210 houses which were totally destroyed in Aklan, with Kalibo listing the highest with 3,395, followed by Numancia, 1,827 and New Washington, 1,706.
After validation made by social workers from Regions 10 and 11, however, Calizo said that the number of damaged houses reduced.
Soon, Calizo said the DSWD will be implementing the Food for Work Program in Aklan, another scheme of the department to help Aklan's typhoon victims.
In this program, beneficiaries hired by the barangays will receive a food pack everyday worth P140.00 consisting of canned goods and coffee. The program will be implemented in all Aklan municipalities except Malay.
The workers will be hired for five days.
"The goods are still part of donations for typhoon victims, but instead of giving these out as relief goods, these will be used as payment for workers in the barangays hired to do certain jobs like cleaning streets and roads, etc.," Calizo said.
The DSWD will implement this program in coordination with municipalities through their barangays captains. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Aklan's lady mayors form beeline for DBPs forest program

Kalibo, Aklan - Three lady mayors from Aklan have expressed their interest to join the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Forest Program.

These lady mayors – Maria Lourdes M. Miraflores of Ibajay, Kathryne B. Refol of Altavas and Elverita Templonuevo of Numancia happened to know of this program during the recently-held Conference-Workshop on the Environmental Security on Tourism (TEST) in Kalibo with the DBP Forest Program as one of the topics, given by Jessica E. Eucogcan, Bank Executive Officer I, Regional Marketing Center.

The point that apparently captured the attention of the three lady mayors, as well as those of the participants from the government and non-government sectors and other stakeholders of the tourism industry in Aklan was when Ms. Eucogcan said that "the program is not a loan but an assistance".

According to DBP-Aklan Branch Manager Basilia Fajardo, Mayor Miraflores of Ibajay showed how eager she was to make her municipality a beneficiary of the program by submitting her letter of intent just days after the presentation.

Manager Fajardo said Mayor Miraflores intends to rehabilitate the coastlines of the two barangays of her town – Naisud and Bugtong Bato and turn this into a Mangrove Reserve and Eco-Tourism Zone.

Mayors Refol and Templonuevo have also related projects for their municipalities in mind, according to Manager Fajardo.

The DBP Forest Program, according to the presentation of Ms. Eucogcan, is an initiative of the DBP to protect the country's watershed areas. Its long term vision is to develop downstream industries in the rural areas by supporting and encouraging the forestation of open areas through the planting of high value fruit trees and other useful species like bamboo and ilang-ilang.

Other similar undertakings include coastal rehabilitation through planting of mangroves. Secondary considerations resulting from the tree planting projects are improvement in spawning grounds for terrestrial and marine grounds.

The forest program, started by the DBP in 2005 is in answer to the woes suffered by the people in calamity-prone areas caused by environmental degradation through erosion, landslides and flooding.

"The program will also help address the country's problem on global warming," Fajardo said.

In Western Visayas, two DBP-assisted forest programs are already in place – located in Guimaras and Lambunao.

Besides LGUs, other entities qualified to join the program are State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), People's Organizations that have been awarded Community Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) by DENR, and other government agencies which have large forest areas under their management..

Specific project sites must consider the following: areas with slope of 18% and above; not to be subjected to land-use change; areas proven to be compatible with certain high value fruit trees and accessible to allow easy bringing in of planting stocks and facilitate monitoring and bringing o produce to the market, and high poverty incidence.

Planting stocks will be sourced from BPI-accredited commercial nurseries nationwide, state universities and colleges, DA-Bureau of Plant Industry and DENR Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.

DBP will assist the partners by shouldering the cost of planting stocks, allowance for mortality up to 10% of cost of planting stocks and 1st year support for operating expenses up to 40% of cost of planting stocks.

When the project is already yielding in the case of high-value fruit trees, sharing of harvest will be based on net yield – 70% for the Partner and 30% for DBP.

"This way, the program will rollover to other beneficiaries or partners", Fajardo said. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

RP tourism campaign the best in Southeast Asia – DOT

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Philippine tourism campaign is the best in Southeast Asia, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

DOT Undersecretary Salvador D. Sarabia, Jr. said that based on the UN World Tourism Organization, the Philippines' tourism campaign came out with 14% annual growth rate, the highest in Southeast Asia, surpassing the 7 % increase of tourist traffic in the Asia Pacific last year.

USEC Sarabia, was in Kalibo recently to conduct the Conference-Workshop on the Environmental Security on Tourism (TEST) which was attended by Aklan's local chief executives and provincial officials, tourism stakeholders in the province and representatives from national/provincial government offices and non-government organizations.

"Last year 2007 was a year of breakthroughs for Philippine tourism as visitor traffic and tourist spending soared to unprecedented levels – 3.9 million tourists pumping in $4.885 billion U.S. dollars. For 2008 January to July, tourist arrivals rose to 6.1 %, with 1.92 million bringing at least 2.17 billion dollars to our coffers, " Sarabia told the participants.

Sarabia further revealed that the months of January, March and July registered the highest visitor volume surpassing the previous records in the last 3 years. Korea remains the top source market, according to him.

"While the current economic slowdown in the market affected the growth rate of tourist arrivals, the number of visitors from China remains robust. We believe that this breakthrough is due to the Department's creativity for bigger tourism drive," Sarabia said.

He said the DOT formulated marketing campaigns that heightened foreign travelers' interest in the Philippines.

Sarabia added that with the broad opportunity and heightened interest in the global market of Philippine tourism, the DOT has been consistent in maintaining its focus on ensuring the safety and security of tourists, the preservation, protection and sustainability of destinations as well as the stake or interest of investors in the country.

In Aklan where the world-famous Boracay Island is, national, provincial and municipal government offices are leaving no stones unturned to maintain peace and order and cleanliness in the island so tourists will be enticed to return again and again, and to tell their compatriots of the island's beauty and peacefulness when they go back to their respective countries.

Based on records from the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) here, Koreans have the biggest number in tourist arrivals in the island, followed by the Americans.

With the landing of international flights at Kalibo Airport direct from Taiwan, the PTO revealed that the number of Chinese tourists going to Boracay have grown bigger.

From January to July of this year, PTO records showed that 400,037 tourists arrived in Boracay, generating a total o P7,354,040,185.80 in tourism receipts.

Aklan aims for a 1 million tourist arrivals in Boracay in 2010. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

PGMA vow to energize Aklan barangay realized

Ibajay, Aklan – When President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo visited Ibajay June 2 of this year to inaugurate the town’s newest bridge, one very urgent request she got from the barangay folks is the electrification of Barangay Aparicio, an upland barangay of the municipality.

Nine days after June 2, Barangay Aparicio folks got their wish. This good news, however, was not immediately know throughout the province, especially when Typhoon Frank struck Aklan on June 21, 2008, as all attention of Aklan leaders and the whole population focused on rehabilitation efforts and rising from the ruins brought by the calamity.

Barangay Aparicio has 140 households. On June 18, 2008, 50 of these households were energized by the Aklan Electric Cooperative (AKELCO), the province’ power distributor, after line construction was effected at the request of PGMA to the electric cooperative’s General Manager, Chito Peralta, who committed to light up the barangay at the soonest possible time.

Barangay Aparicio, together with neighboring barangays Monlaque and Malindog, are beneficiaries of the country’s peace agreement with the RPA-RPM.

During her talk at the bridge’ inauguration, PGMA said that in the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010, the peace process consists of peacemaking and peacekeeping, which includes full implementation of existing final peace agreements, such as with the RPA-RPM.

The President said then that she wanted the country’s peace agreement with the RPA to bring a new era of economic development to areas like Aparicio.

To uplift the economic situation of the people of Aparicio, one very important need identified was electricity.

With the electrification of the barangays, the likes of Luzminda Domingo, abaca loom weaver, and other housewives who are into nito crafting, abaca rope twining and other home-based industries interviewed earlier when the barangay was still “in darkness” could work even at night.

“This way”, Luzminda Domingo said then, “we can increase our productivity.”

Now that Aparicio is already energized, this goal of Domingo and the rest of Aparicio folks could be achieved.

Barangay Aparicio, according to AKELCO,was selected as beneficiary of “Barangay Subsidy” of the National Electrification Administration for this year.

Presently, 98% of barangays at AKELCO’s coverage areas is already energized. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

DOH, RHUs warn against hazards caused by uncollected garbage

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Department of Health (DOH) and Rural Health Units (RHUs) in Aklan are currently intensely campaigning for proper collection and disposal of garbage brought by floods, as well as those from households.

Recently, provinces in Panay, especially Aklan and Iloilo which were badly hit by Typhoon Frank became a repository of garbage brought by floodwaters carrying tons of mud from the mountains.

During the flood's height in Kalibo, drainages were clogged with garbage, which prevented floodwaters to recede faster. After the typhoon, various types of garbage were piled everywhere in the streets.

In a health advisory, the DOH said many health hazards can be caused by uncollected/undisposed solid waste materials and improper disposal, brought by the flash flood.

Uncollected garbage, according to the DOH, can cause proliferation of insects that might contaminate food and drinking water; contamination of drinking water that can cause water and food borne disease; obstruction of drainage system that can create more flood and that might cause Leptospirosis; and harmful odor that can endanger the health of the general public, especially children and the elderly.

Uncollected garbage can also cause stagnant water that can be a breeding place of mosquitoes that might cause Dengue Fever, and different injuries to passersby and motorists.

To prevent these health hazards, the DOH advises the public to immediately collect and dispose solid waste materials through Bayanihan System of clean up operation. The community should create a Barangay Brigade or Barangay Linis Task Force, involving the community, to conduct speedy elimination of these health hazards in the environment.

On the part of RHUs specifically in Kalibo, Dr. Jocelyn Garcia, Rural Health Physician, called on the community to regularly clean their houses and surroundings not only during rainy days. Empty cans and cartons should be properly disposed so this won't be made a breeding place of mosquitoes, according to Dr. Garcia.

Dr. Garcia also said floods could be avoided if garbage are collected and disposed properly so these would not clog the drainage system and could easily be collected by sanitary workers of the Municipal General Services Office. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

DPWH implementing infra projects in Kalibo

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) here is currently implementing several infrastructure projects in Kalibo, the province's capital town.

A list of infrastructure projects was recently submitted by DPWH District Engineer Roberto Cabigas to the office of Mayor Raymar Rebaldo to let him know of the various projects the department is implementing, funded by the government.

Some o these projects were already started before Typhoon Frank struck Aklan on June 21.

Based on the list, two of these projects are already finished – the rehabilitation of multi-purpose pavement at Pastrana Park, and construction of Andagao Box Culvert which was proposed by Aklan Congressman Florencio T. Miraflores. Three of the projects are on-going – the construction of a multi-purpose building in New Buswang costing P1 million pesos started on May 28, 2008 implemented by LGU-Kalibo under a Memorandum of Agreement; construction of a classroom of Aklan National High School of Arts and Trades (ANHSAT) costing P512,000.00 and construction of a multi-purpose pavement in Barangay Caano.

Other projects set to be implemented include the repair and rehabilitation of the DPWH edifice in Kalibo set or bidding on September 12 with the cost of P150,000.00; repair of Goding Ramos Hall of Justice, P150,000:00; repair of DepEd-Aklan office, P150,000:00 and repair of DOST edifice, P1 million.

Most of the buildings set for repair were damaged by Typhoon rank. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

DOT maintains focus on ensuring safety, security of tourists, USEC says

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) has been consistent in maintaining its focus on ensuring the safety and security of tourists, according to Undersecretary Salvador D. Sarabia, Jr.

Sarabia also said the DOT is also consistent in the preservation, protection and sustainability of tourist destinations as well as the state of interest of investors in the country. The DOT USEC revealed this information to participants of the Conference Workshop on the Environmental Security on Tourism (TEST) held recently at the Hernani’s Mix and Match, attended by stakeholders of Aklan’s tourism industry, Aklan mayors, representatives from the national, provincial and local government units, non-government organizations and the local media.

Sarabia said that the activity, which had been held already in other provinces in Panay is being conducted to discuss and exchange ideas and information to fulfill the different programs and objectives of the project.

“Presently, the completion of infrastructure projects related to tourism has been set for the year 2010. New foreign investors have started to come to the country and more are still expected to invest in the coming years. Going forward, TEST is focused on the action plans and roadmaps that may be drafted for greater collaboration and understanding among the stakeholders, many of which would present opportunities and growth,” Sarabia told the participants.

Sarabia said the conference-workshop is a little time-consuming, but it is best to collaborate in planning for mitigation measures to prevent disasters like Frank even as he admitted that typhoons cannot be stopped. He also expressed his hope for Kalibo and the rest of the country to survive disasters like typhoons, predicted to come still but in less numbers though far stronger.

From DOT’s side, Sarabia assured the participants that that the recommendations and issues brought to light will be addressed to the best of their capabilities.

Sarabia expressed his confidence too that the conference workshop, with its many presentations, may yet be another important step for collaboration that will ensure that the province of Aklan will rise again and will benefit from the DOT’s effort and commitment.

Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez, in his welcome remarks read by SP member Gerick Templonuevo earlier, thanked the DOT for initiating the activity which is a big help in the province’ tourism program.

Governor Marquez took the opportunity to acknowledge the help of Philippine Army reservists who helped the province clear its government offices of tons of mud that came with the deepest flood ever experienced when Typhoon Frank struck Aklan last June 21, 2008.

“The poor continue to suffer, many have not yet rebuilt their homes and we are all back to square one so an activity like this from the DOT will be a big help,” Governor Marquez said in his message.

TEST conducted in Aklan was a joint undertaking by the Office of Security and Political Affairs of the DOT, in collaboration with the National Defense College of the Philippines – Crisis Management Institute and Haribon Foundation, Inc., with the support of other government agencies like the DENR, DTI and the DILG, various LGUs and the private stakeholder groups.

Prior to the workshop proper, talks/lectures were given by Rowena Sorioso, DOT, who gave an overview of TEST; Roselle Q. Ruiz, Provincial Tourism Operations Officer-Aklan, who gave the overview of Tourism Industry and Development in Aklan; Lilian dela Vega, Haribon Foundation, Overview of Diversity; Forester Anabelle B. Briones, Reforestation Program for Region 6; Captain Ruel Tabas, Regional Security Situation; Gigi Santos, Commissioner, Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving, Conservation of the Marine Environment Thru Diving; Jessica E. Eucogcan, Bank Executive Officer I, DBP Forest Program’ and Conrad Perreras, Bamboo for Life: An Advocacy for Environmental Protection and Livelihood Generation.

The activity was also graced by Aklan Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo, who gave a short talk and assisted USEC Sarabia in the distribution of certificates of participation. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan's elderly to benefit from "Katas Ng VAT"

Kalibo, Aklan -- Aklan's senior citizens will soon enjoy the government's gains from VAT through the "Katas Ng VAT – Tulong Senior Citizens program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Under this program, senior citizens will be granted a one-time financial subsidy of P500.00 by the government

This information was relayed to Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez through a letter from DSWD Field Office 6 Regional Director Teresita S. Rosales.

The communication, according to Rosales, came from the department's undersecretary.

The "Katas ng VAT" – Tulong Senior Citizens program will be implemented nationwide by the DSWD in coordination with the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA).

To qualify, beneficiaries must be 70 years old and above, not covered by SSS, GSIS or any government retirement benefit, and have no regular income.

In Aklan, Municipal Social Workers and Development Officers of the province's 17 towns had been requested by the Provincial Government through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office to submit the number of senior citizens in their areas qualified to avail of the financial subsidy.

Once consolidated by the DSWD Regional Office, the data will be sent to the Central Office for budget allocation.

Just recently, the government also granted lifeline electricity users nationwide with P500 under the "Pantawid Kuryente: Katas ng VAT" program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In Aklan, more than 68,000 households benefited from this program. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Photo contest on climate change on

A photo contest covering the theme "Climate Change in the Philippines (causes, consequences and responses) is now open to all Filipino photojournalists and photography enthusiasts with promising cash prizes in euros and special prizes.

According to the Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines and the Philippine Center for Photojournalism, major sponsors of the photo contest, the competition is open to all Filipinos except for the staff of the delegation. Eligible photos are those published or unpublished, taken in the Philippines from June 2007 to November 2008.

A maximum of up to ten (10) standalone photos may be submitted by a participant. In addition, participants may submit up to a maximum of 5 photo stories comprising 5 to 12 images per photo story. Images submitted as part of a photo story will also be considered on their merits as standalone photos.

Entries may be taken by a digital camera (with at least 4 megapixel size and taken at the largest images capture mode) or by a film camera (using at least 135 mm film, then digitized).

All entries must be submitted on a compact disk recordable (CDR) using the following file name system. For single images: Initials_Photo#Total Number of Entries (example:JAD_Photo 1-8).

For photo stories – initials of photographer-Photo story-total number of photo story (example JAD_PS1_p2-12).

Participants who will be included in the final selection process may be asked to submit their negatives and/or raw digital files. Digitally-altered images will be disqualified. Traditional photo enhancing must be limited to acceptable dodging, color level and contrast adjustment.

Contestants must enclose a paper containing the following details: Photo File Name, Photo Title/Photo Essay title, Date and Place taken, Name of Participant, Complete Mailing Address, Contact/Phone Number and e-mail address.

A duly-signed certificate attesting that the photographs is/are taken by the participant and that he/she holds the copyright to it must also be attached to the submitted entries.

The Board of Judges will be composed or respected photo journalists/artists as well as officials from the Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines, Philippine Center for Photojournalism, Inc. and partners.

Deadline for submission of entries is on or before noon on November 6, 2008. Winners will each receive a trophy plus in kind prizes. For first prize (singles), the winner will get 1,000 euros; second, 800 euros; third, 600 euros. Ten honorable mentions will get certificates. A special prize of 800 euros will be given for photo story while five honorable mentions will get certificates.

A special prize for a photo on EC response to Climate Change will get 800 euros. In addition, all winners may receive special prizes from the European Commission and partners.

For further information, log on to; or at (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan's elderly to avail of "Katas ng VAT"

Kalibo, Aklan -- Aklan's senior citizens will soon partake of VAT's benefits. Very soon, they will be availing of a P500 subsidy each.

Senior citizens who would benefit from this program of the national government are those with ages 70 years old and up with no income, and not receiving pensions. These senior citizens can get the P500 subsidy from the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) in the respective municipalities where they reside.

The program is implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in coordination with the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs and Local Government Units. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

DPWH submits list of infra projects in Kalibo

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) recently submitted a list of infrastructure projects in Kalibo to Mayor Raymar Rebaldo. Several of these projects, according to District Engineer Roberto Cabigas, were already started before Typhoon Frank struck Aklan.

According to Mayor Rebaldo's office, two of these projects are already finished – the rehabilitation of the multi-purpose pavement phase IV at Pastrana Park and the construction of Andagao Box Culvert with Congressman Florencio T. Miraflores as the proponent.

Three other projects are ongoing – the construction of the multi-purpose building in New Buswang amounting to P1 million pesos which was started last May 26 implemented by LGU-Kalibo under a Memorandum of Agreement; construction of a classroom of Aklan National High School for Arts and Trades amounting to P12,000.00 and construction of the multi-purpose pavement of Brgy. Caano.

Projects which have yet to be started and to undergo bidding on September 12 is the edifice of DPWH Kalibo to cost P150,000:00; repair of Goding Ramos Hall of Justice, P150,000 and repair of the Department of Science and Technology Office to cost P1 million. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

DPWH aims for zero potholes in Aklan

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) here has started its current project of eliminating potholes in the province especially in Kalibo through asphalt overlay.

DPWH-Aklan District Engineer Roberto J. Cabigas said work has started Monday, September 1 involving repair and rehabilitation of Kalibo's major streets.

DE Cabigas said the implementation of the zero-pothole program of DPWH will last until all streets and roads are repaired.

"The DPWH has a standby fund for this project which will be used for the repair of the streets, depending on the extent of damages," said DE Cabigas.

Other projects the DPWH is handling is the concreting of Altavas-Jamindan Road, which has a budget of P30 million. DE Cabigas said this project, which will be started next week, has a time frame of seven (7) months.

In Boracay, DPWH is also implementing construction of the circumferential road, ongoing activities this year having been budgeted with P30 million through the DPWH Infrastructure Program for Aklan, Lone Congressional District for the completion of the concreting of Boracay Raods (Lapus – Fairways Section) primary intended to enhance tourism including the replication of affected structures and Road Right of Way (RROW).

On the other hand, DPWH Regional Office has allocated another Php60.00 to cover the construction/asphalting of road from Tulubhan Road to Bulabog Road which is approximately 2.040 kilometer in length. This project was conceptualized to eventually decongest the existing route through a one way traffic scheme.

According to the DPWH, this project will be implemented alongside with the Department of Tourism (DOT), which is seen to dialogue with the stakeholders to cooperate with the government by allowing the road to pass by their lands.

A meeting with these stakeholders and national and provincial officials will be held on Sunday, Sept. 7 in Boracay to talk about this concern.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Internal Revenue in Region 6, Iloilo City recently awarded DPWH-Aklan for being the number 3 top paying agency in the government sector. Engineer Cabigas said he is very happy with the award. Last year, DPWH-Aklan ranked first in this category.

This year, in the government sector, DepEd ranked number one while Aklan Provincial Government ranked number 2. The awards were given in Iloilo City during BIR's anniversary. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan needs veterinarians in all towns, provincial vet says

Kalibo, Aklan -- There is a need for Aklan's 17 towns of Aklan to have a municipal veterinarian.

"If there are municipal veterinarians in municipalities, there will be an office to take charge of veterinary services which will be good for the constituents," said Dr. Radislao, Provincial Veterinarian of this province.

Dr. Radislao said the municipal veterinarians could be deployed in the towns through the creation of a Municipal Veterinarian's Office. These municipal veterinarians, he said, will then focus on rendering service on animal health, animal production and veterinary public health, which involves meat inspections to determine if the meat sold in the public markets is safe for consumption.

Although appointment of municipal veterinarians is optional for local chief executives, Dr. Radislao said it is mandatory for 1st class municipalities to have one. He said all towns in Aklan have no veterinarian's office yet.

For years, Dr. Radislao's said he and his staff had been gracing Sangguniang Bayan sessions of all municipalities in the province to lobby for the creation of the office or the appointment of a veterinarian in the offices of Municipal Agriculturists so there would be someone to take care or monitor the health of farm and domestic animals.

Presently, a pressing concern and target of the OPVET here is to totally eradicate rabies. Dr. Radislao said rabies could be eliminated eventually if there are veterinarians working in municipalities.

"Rabies is irreversible. Once you have caught it and the virus reaches your brain, you cannot hope to survive anymore. They say in every problem, there is a solution, but with rabies, there is no solution at all," Dr. Radislao stressed.

Aklan is aiming to be a rabies-free province by 2010. Presently, OPVET is accommodating dog owners who bring their pets to the office for anti-rabies vaccination, consultation, advices on proper caring of pets. It also conducts dog castrations and spayings.

Should Aklan's municipalities finally open positions for municipal veterinarians, Dr. Radislao assured Aklan has plenty of licensed vets to fill the positions, as the Aklan State University (ASU) here operates a College of Veterinary Medicine with many of its graduates able to pass the licensure examinations for veterinarians.

"Two of ASU's CVM graduates, now licensed veterinarians, are actually working with us at OPVET," Dr. Radislao disclosed.

Currently, OPVET is strictly implementing its programs to sustain Aklan's status as FMD-free by closely monitoring points of entry in the province – airports, seaports, and jetty ports to prevent entry of questionable livestock and meat products which might bring diseases to animals here. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

BIR awards Aklan’s top taxpayers

Kalibo, Aklan-- Three sets of top taxpayers from Aklan were recently honored by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in Iloilo City when this revenue-collecting agency of the government celebrated its 104th anniversary.

The report furnished by the BIR here under Revenue District Officer Nelia Demalata revealed that the awardees were classified as individual, corporate and government.

For individual taxpayers, Wilfredo M. Gelito from Boracay topped the list while Orlando J. Sacay also of Boracay ranked second. Ariel L. Garcia, a businessman from Kalibo ranked third.

Corporate taxpayers, on the other hand, who were awarded in Iloilo, were led by Hennan Hotel Management Group Inc. as the top taxpayer followed by Seraph Management Group, Inc. and Aklan Electric Cooperative Inc., which placed third.

The first two corporate awardees operate in Boracay. Hennan Hotel Management Group operates Boracay Regency Hotel while Seraph Management runs the Hotel Seraph.

For government taxpayers, the Department of Education topped the list, followed by the Aklan Provincial Government, second; and the Department of Public Works and Highways, third.

In Panay Island, DepEd ranked first in the provinces of Aklan and Capiz while in Iloilo, it placed second for the Division of Iloilo and fourth for the Division of Iloilo City.

Electric cooperatives, meanwhile, figured as top taxpayers in the provinces of Aklan (third); Antique (first) and in Iloilo-Zarraga – second (Iloilo II Electric Coop. Inc.) and third (Iloilo III Electric Cooperative).

Local governments in Panay Island also figured as top taxpayers – Aklan, second (Provincial Government); Capiz, second, (Provincial Government); Antique, top three (Provincial Government, Mun. Gov’t of San Jose de Buenavista and Mun. Government of Sibalom); Iloilo – 1st, (Iloilo City Government), and third, (Iloilo Provincial Government); and at Zarraga, Iloilo – 2nd, (City Government of Passi). (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

68,000 Aklan households benefited from PGMA’s “Pantawid Kuryente” program

Kalibo, Aklan -- Sixty-eight thousand (68,000) households in Aklan benefited from the “Pantawid Kuryente: Katas ng VAT Program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The program was implemented in Aklan by Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO), according to a report published in KAHAYAG, the electric cooperative’s official publication.

The financial assistance is in the form of P500.00 subsidy given to residential consumers who consumed in the month of May 2008 100 kilowatt hours and below. The assistance was deducted starting the July 2008 billing period until the entire amount is consumed.

AKELCO Asst. General Manager (AGM) for Finance Department Rosielie R. Tarantan, the billing division listed more than 68,000 residential consumers who consumed 100 kilowatt hours and below.

PGMA’s “Pantawid Kuryente: Katas Ng VAT program” is being implemented by all electric cooperatives in the country to help alleviate the plight of consumers who are reeling from the increase in prices of gasoline and basic commodities.

This program is implemented through the Department if Social Welfare and Development and the National Electrification Administration, according to AKELCO.

Meanwhile, Aklan Electric Cooperative Inc. ranked third as the highest corporate taxpayer in Aklan for year 2007. It was given an award by the BIR along with Hennan Hotel Management Group, Inc. and Seraph Management Group, Inc. which placed 1st and second respectively in Iloilo City during BIR’s 104th anniversary. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

PCA, Aklan LGUs rush to control Brontispa in mainland

Kalibo, Aklan -- Brontispa has reached mainland Aklan, despite all the efforts, resources and time invested by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), the provincial government of Aklan and the local government unit of Malay in preventing it from crossing the sea from Boracay Island.

Brontispa is a pest that destroys palms and coconuts, which initially reached Aklan via Boracay Island through imported but infested palms brought for planting in resorts.

Plevy Raco, Provincial Coconut Development Manager of PCA-Aklan said 11 barangays of Malay and 3 barangays of Buruanga are already infested with brontispa.

Raco said although the local government unit of Malay implemented the "no entry, no exit" of palms and coconut trees in and out of Boracay Island, some other factors or reasons might have caused the brontispa to reach mainland Aklan, especially the two mainland towns which are close to Boracay Island, like clinging to hairs or clothes of workers or visitors who go home during late hours of the day after working in the island.

"Brontispa tends to fly when darkness sets in, so it is possible some clung to clothes or hairs of people and were unintentionally brought out of the island," Raco said.

Raco also said that although there is a "no entry, no exit" order for palms and coconuts in and out of Boracay in major ports of entry, other people might have used other points to enter and get out of the island, landing in areas where nobody could check items they brought out of the island.

"The island's wastes are also disposed in mainland Malay, so there is a possibility that brontispa-infested-palm and coconut fronds which were trimmed and thrown as garbage were brought out in the island unburned, because burning is not allowed in Boracay," said Raco.

Presently, the PCA and the local governments of Malay and Buruanga are up on their toes controlling the spread of brontispa in more barangays. The treatment currently used by the local government units involves contact spraying of Karate insecticide to kill the pests. Pruning is also done, and the affected parts are immediately burned to destroy the pests.

The use of brontispa's natural predator, the earwigs, will also be applied in destroying brontispa. Raco said the PCA has ordered 30,000 earwigs from their head office in Lucena which would be released in Malay and Buruanga as soon as possible. Meetings were also conducted in all barangays in the two towns to inform the coconut farmers of the infestation, and to solicit their help in protecting their coconuts and eliminating the pests.

Neighboring towns of Nabas, Ibajay and Tangalan had been informed too of the infestation, so their officials and residents will be aware of the danger and would be able to implement measures to keep the pests from reaching their municipalities and affecting their coconut trees.

Meanwhile, in Boracay Island, the PCA said 80% of coconuts and palm trees there have already recovered. Resort owners, on their own, also do follow-up treatment of their palms. Every week, PCA-Aklan divides its staff to monitor the situation in Boracay, Buruanga and Malay, alongside those also deployed by the local government units to eradicate the pest. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

RP can export livestock products, says OPVET-Aklan

Kalibo, Aklan – The Philippines can export livestock products, according to Aklan's Provincial Veterinarian, Dr. Gervase Radislao, who was in complete agreement with Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap's declaration that the country is capable to do so, being about to be declared globally foot and mouth disease (FMD)-free.

"The country is also bird-flu free, so our poultry could also be exported to other countries," Dr. Radislao said.

Dr. Radislao said the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian in Aklan is strictly implementing quarantine measures in major points of entry in the province like the airports, sea ports and jetty ports, inspecting poultry, meat and meat products entering the province to prevent FMD from coming to Aklan. They also require people bringing in livestock and poultry and other products to present documents for inspection.

"If they cannot present the needed papers, we either reship the products or condemn it by burning and burying," Dr. Radislao said.

The provincial veterinarian also said the Philippines is very lucky because at this point, it is still bird-flu free. Aklan is also implementing strict measures along this line, conducting spot inspections along the highway so poultry brought to Aklan from other provinces are properly checked and inspected.

"It will be a terrible scenario if bird flu reaches the Philippines, because the poultry industry will be wiped out, and people will also die," Dr. Radislao warned.

In his recent media briefing in Nueva Ecija, Sec. Yap said the Visayas and Mindanao have already been internationally accredited as FMD-free and the government is filing a claim for Luzon to be also declared free of the disease that afflicts carabaos and cattle.

To support the export of meat products, Yap said the government, in cooperation with the private sector, will invest in world-class slaughterhouses, refrigeration and processing facilities to make the country more competitive in the global market for livestock products.

The government is also encouraging investments in the poultry sector to increase the production of chicken and other poultry products. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

PCA's coconut planting program to help in rehab of industry in Aklan

Kalibo, Aklan -- Philippine Coconut Authority's Participatory Coconut Planting Program (PCPP) will be one of the agency's programs to help in the rehabilitation of the coconut industry in Aklan, which was badly affected when Typhoon Frank struck this province last June 21.

According to Plevy Raco, Provincial Coconut Development Manager of PCA-Aklan, they are relying on this program to help restore Aklan's coconut cover as well as to help coconut farmers in augmenting their income as they will be paid for planting new coconut trees under this program.

Raco said that although mature, fruit-bearing coconuts along river banks had been washed away, those earlier planted under this program were hardly destroyed, being low enough from being swept by the typhoon's strong winds.

PCA will also be aiding farmers in increasing their coconut production by providing them with fertilization components. Raco said with the shake-up the coconut trees underwent during the typhoon, recovery is expected after one year.

The PCA will also be intensifying its corn intercropping program to also help augment the income of coconut farmers. Under this scheme, coconut farmers willing to join this program will be given 10 kilos of corn seeds for every hectare of coconut farm he intends to intercrop with corn.

"To pay back, the farmer only needs to give back the same amount of corn seeds which he used for intercropping, so that the same will also be forwarded to other coconut farmers who wish to join the program," Raco said.

Corn seeds for the program could cover 100 hectares in Aklan, but Raco assured that should there be requests for more, the PCA could readily give it, provided that the seeds will be used only for intercropping.

The seeds are expected to be distributed in the months of September and October, which are corn-planting months. Farmers from the municipalities of Banga, Numancia, Kalibo, Lezo and Malinao have already signified their interest to join the corn intercropping program. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Cheap rice still accessible despite pullout from markets - NFA

Linabuan Sur, Banga, Aklan -- The P18.25 per kilo rice sold by the National Food Authority (NFA) through retailers can still be availed by Aklanons despite its pullout from the market, as the commodity is now sold in community-based outlets like the Tindahan Natins (TN) in barangays throughout the province and at Institutionalized Bigasan Sa Palengke (IBSP).

This assurance came from NFA-Aklan Officer-in-Charge Erna T. Young in reaction to the recent decision of the government to pull out the P18.25/kilo Vietnam Rice from public markets.

Despite the pullout, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assured the public that there will be no shortage in the supply of rice and every household will have food on the table. She also emphasized in her speech at the 10th anniversary of the Busig-On Festival in Camarines Norte that the rice in the prices of food and oil continues to be a global problem and the government is doing everything it can to address the issue.

In Aklan, even with the pullout of the P18.25 per kilo rice, Ms. Young assured that people could still buy in public markets NFA-imported rice from Thailand at P25.00 per kilo.

Thailand rice, according to Ms. Young is available in all public markets in Aklan municipalities except Malay and Buruanga.

Ms. Young said the demand for Thailand rice in the market is high, with some outlets selling more or less 400 bags per week. Government as well as private employees in Aklan have also discovered Thailand rice' good quality as well as its distinct aroma, that Ms. Young said many agencies have started to facilitate their employees' household rice procurement from the NFA.

"Some just started by trying to buy several kilos, and when they found out that Thailand rice is of good quality, aromatic and tastes good, they became repeat buyers and are now buying rice per bag instead of per kilo before", said Ms. Young.

A government employee is allowed to buy a bag of 50 kilograms rice per month.

To avail of Thailand rice, Ms. Young said the head of office only needs to write a letter to the NFA together with the list of employees wishing to buy rice.

Ms. Young also revealed that two months after Typhoon Frank, there are still organizations conducting relief operations in the province which sourced their rice from NFA. In these instances, Vietnam rice is made available, according to the food agency.

Soon, the NFA will also be marketing rice from the U.S., priced at P38.00 per kilo. Ms. Young said this would be made available in Bacolod City only.

Presently, NFA-Aklan is on an intensified procurement, buying palay at P17 per kilo from Aklan farmers. It also offers incentives to farmers holding passbooks. For every 2,250 kilograms delivered to NFA-Aklan which is approximately 50 bags of palay, the farmer will get P1,800 fertilizer incentive which will be given to him or his group or cooperative in cash. The offer, according to the NFA, is for one-time delivery only. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

DOST SET-UP program enables Aklan's MSMEs to earn more

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP) of the Department of Science and Technology had been a big help to Aklan's Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through funds extended under the program, enabling them to earn more, according to the DOST here.

After receiving the assistance from the DOST under SET-UP, many MSMEs noticed positive changes in their business, like increase in daily sales and earnings.

Records from DOST-Aklan revealed that since 2004, 11 MSMEs benefited from the program.

The program, according to Aster Oliva of the DOST here, involves extending fund assistance to MSMEs with no interest charged by the agency and payable in three years.

For this year, one proposal being evaluated for funding by DOST for this year is for process improvement of pasalubong delicacies by Tamagos Confectioneries Manufacturer. Other projects which had been assisted by the DOST and are now being implemented or already operational include upgrading of fish processing facilities, acquisition of additional equipment for development program in food processing, upgrading of food processing equipment (boneless bangus) upgrading of wood-based furniture production, upgrading and expansion program for weavers of Heritage Arts and Crafts, upgrading of abaca and pina loomweaving facility, upgrading of nito-based housewares and furnishings production facilities, etc.

Since 2004, DOST has extended almost P5,000,000.00 to Aklan's MSMEs under the SET-UP program.

SET-UP is the main technology transfer and commercialization program being implemented by DOST Region 6 in accordance with the National S & T Plan 2002-2020. It is a nationwide strategy for MSMEs to implement technological innovations and improvements in their operations.

Local industries in Aklan which had been assisted by the DOST are now very visible in their respective sector like food processing, furniture, pina and abaca loom weaving and gifts and housewares. Some are already exporting while others are already maintaining outlets outside Aklan. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

DOH 6 praises Kalibo health workers for averting post-Frank epidemics

Kalibo, Aklan – For working very hard to avert post-Typhoon Frank health risks from reaching epidemic proportion in Aklan especially in the capital town, Kalibo's rural health workers were recently praised by representatives from Department of Health 6 who visited Aklan to assess the resident's health situation.

In going around Kalibo, the group from DOH 6 expressed happiness that the dreaded diseases expected to strike residents after Typhoon Frank hit Aklan like dengue and respiratory track infection did not escalate into epidemic proportion.

Dr. Melanie V. Tolentino, who heads Kalibo Rural Health Unit I and Dr. Jocelyn Garcia, who heads Rural Health Unit 2, agreed that there were only a minimal number of cases of the diseases in Kalibo.

"Because our health workers were very hard-working and focused in their duties, all residents who sought assistance from our health centers were attended and these helped much in the prevention of diseases.

Dr. Tolentino also told the DOH 6 representatives that Kalibo's sanitary inspectors also worked hard especially in the public market in eradicating flies that are major carriers of diseases. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)
DOH 6 praises Kalibo health workers for averting post-Frank epidemics

Kalibo, Aklan – For working very hard to avert post-Typhoon Frank health risks from reaching epidemic proportion in Aklan especially in the capital town, Kalibo's rural health workers were recently praised by representatives from Department of Health 6 who visited Aklan to assess the resident's health situation.

In going around Kalibo, the group from DOH 6 expressed happiness that the dreaded diseases expected to strike residents after Typhoon Frank hit Aklan like dengue and respiratory track infection did not escalate into epidemic proportion.

Dr. Melanie V. Tolentino, who heads Kalibo Rural Health Unit I and Dr. Jocelyn Garcia, who heads Rural Health Unit 2, agreed that there were only a minimal number of cases of the diseases in Kalibo.

"Because our health workers were very hard-working and focused in their duties, all residents who sought assistance from our health centers were attended and these helped much in the prevention of diseases.

Dr. Tolentino also told the DOH 6 representatives that Kalibo's sanitary inspectors also worked hard especially in the public market in eradicating flies that are major carriers of diseases. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Aklan on the road to recovery, says governor

Kalibo, Aklan -- Two months after Typhoon Frank battered Aklan, Governor Carlito Marquez said the province is now on the road to recovery.

Governor Marquez issued this statement when he delivered a message at the Planning Workshop attended by members of Aklan Rehabilitation Task Force held recently at the Gov. Corazon Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center at Brgy. Old Buswang.

Governor Marquez also revealed that help still keeps pouring in for Aklan typhoon victims from government and non-government organizations like the Dios Mabalos Foundation and the International Red Cross.

"Last week, the province received P2 million donation from the province of Cebu through Governor Gwen Garcia", Gov. Marquez revealed.

The kind gestures, according to the governor, give the Aklanons feelings of satisfaction that many people and organizations are concerned for their welfare, however, he said the time has come to submit the province' detailed rehabilitation program, thus the holding of the planning workshop by the task force.

Governor Marquez said there is a need for a detailed rehabilitation workshop, in keeping with a bill filed in Congress by House representatives from Western Visayas seeking a P15 billion fund for Bangon Panay Rehabilitation Program.

"Aklan should be part of Panay's Rehabilitation, being the worst-hit among the island's provinces. Even during one of President Gloria Macapagal's Cabinet meeting, she acknowledged that Aklan province suffered the worst from Typhoon Frank", Governor Marquez told the task force members coming from the national, provincial and non-government organizations.

Because of Typhoon Frank's devastation in Aklan which caused strong winds to destroy houses and infrastructure in the province and also brought the deepest flood in Kalibo and Numancia leaving tons of mud in streets and homes, PGMA visited Aklan two days in a row on July 1 and 2 to distribute relief goods, confer with local officials and talk with typhoon victims.

Governor Marquez said the rehabilitation plan should focus more on the rehabilitation and dredging of Aklan River as well the drainage system of Kalibo.

Governor Marquez said that the calamity that hit Aklan also gave an opportunity for the province to help improve Kalibo's drainage system along national, provincial, municipal and barangay roads by having the chance to seek funds from the national government.

With tons of mud still present in the mountains of Libacao town, Governor Marquez said the province is planning to buy a river dredging equipment because rehabilitation of the river through dredging will be a continuing activity to protect residents of Kalibo and Numancia. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan rehab plan needs more than P3 B

Kalibo, Aklan -- Aklan needs a total of P3,489,820,250.00 billion so it can rise from the ruins caused by Typhoon Frank which massively destroyed the province' infrastructure, agriculture and rendered terrible damages in lives and properties of Aklanons.

The rehabilitation plan of the province was made for three sectors – Infrastructure, Economic and Social Services with members coming from appropriate government agencies/offices and public utilities.

The Social Services sector identified giving of CORE shelters, emergency shelter assistance and livelihood projects as the means to help rehabilitate typhoon victims. The fund needed, with the DSWD mostly as the source, totals P425, 170, 250.00.

The Infrastructure Sector, on the other hand, needs a total of P2,931,050,000.00. The fund will be used for the rehabilitation of roads, bridges, reconstruction of spur dikes, dredging of the Aklan River, construction of the Aklan River revetment wall, construction of new Kalibo-Numancia bridge, rehabilitation of seawall, reconstruction of gabion, slope protection, repair of schoolhouses, repair of potable water supply, irrigation, day care centers, rural health centers, government buildings, and repair of heavy equipment and public utilities.

Of all the activities to be done for infra rehabilitation, dredging of the Aklan River will have the biggest budget, with P675 million, followed by the rehab and reconstruction of spur dikes, P340 million; construction of revetment wall, P300 million; rehabilitation of roads, P253.62 million; rehab of bridges, P250.5 million; and the construction of new Kalibo-Numancia Bridge, P210 million. Other identified projects have a budget of P150 million and below.

For the economic sector, a total of P133,600,000.00 is needed for the purchase of rice/corn and hybrid rice seeds as well as seeds of fruit and forest trees, coconuts seeds and suckers of bananas and abaca. The fund will also be used for the purchase of farm equipment and machineries, repair of fishponds, fishing nets, gear, ricefields and bancas.

The economic sector also identified other programs for rehab such as procurement of bangus fingerlings, prawns, mudcrabs; livelihood assistance, seaweeds culture, freshwater fish culture; swine, carabao, cattle disposal; purchase of animal vaccines and provision of financial assistance to farmers.

The Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) consolidated the rehabilitation plan of the province.

Final report on damage assessment from the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) revealed that 52 died, 1,047 were injured and 7 went missing when Typhoon Frank struck Aklan June 21 of this year. Partially-destroyed houses numbered 43,068; totally-destroyed reached 11,210 with 358,946 persons were affected.

Damage to agriculture was listed at P488,544,008.00 million; lifelines, P696,661,290.00 million; infrastructure, P276,576,137.75 million and public utilities – P550,680,000.00 million.

Typhoon Frank brought strong winds to Aklan followed by the deepest flood ever experienced in the province. The typhoon and continuous rains also caused landslides in the mountains which came down with river water heaping knee-high mud in the towns of Kalibo and Numancia. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan vice guv says immediate action needed to dredge Aklan River

Kalibo, Aklan -- Aklan Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo recently called for immediate action on the recommendation that the Aklan River needs to be dredged to prevent another flood from occurring in Aklan especially in the towns of Kalibo and Numancia during heavy rains.

Vice Governor Calizo voiced this opinion during the joint environment and committee hearing held recently at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Session Hall to find out the cause of the record-high flood ever experienced in the province in the wake of Typhoon Frank that struck Aklan June 21 of this year.

"If there is an obstruction in the Aklan River, it should be removed immediately to allow the free flow of water," Vice Governor Calizo told those present in the meeting.

Vice Governor Calizo stressed that the province should not wait for the availability of a big budget to start dredging the Aklan River. According to her, something must be done to remove the obstruction using any available resources.

"We're all scared for the mudflow to happen again and increase the height of the river bed. The people must have peace of mind. All of us are aware that something must be done now," Governor Calizo said.

Based on the rehabilitation plan consolidated by the province after Typhoon Frank, dredging of the Aklan River alone will entail a cost of P675 million, to be implemented by the Provincial Engineer's Office, the Department of Public Works and Highways and national government agencies. The time frame of the project is set from August 2008 to June 2010.

The committee meeting was attended SP members Plaridel Morania, Rodson Mayor, Nemesio Neron, Jose Yap, former Congressman Allen S. Quimpo who is currently the Action Officer of Aklan Rehabilitation Task Force and at the same time the Executive Director of the Aklan Rivers Development Council who was the resource person; Atty. Florencio Gonzales, CENRO Baltazar Gerardo of DENR, Provincial Engineer Victory Fernandez, Engr. Raquel Reontoy of the National Irrigation Administration, Estelita LaO of the Department of Public Works and Highways, and Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator Roger M. Esto

The holding of the committee meeting was in response to a privilege speech of Hon. Rodson Mayor seeking for answers on the cause of flood in Kalibo based on the many observations that came out from different personalities and sectors.

The meeting was also held to hear recommendations from the various sectors and personalities and for the SP to extend possible support and assistance to the recommendations. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Despite "Frank", Aklan's abaca industry earns record-high P8 M in July

Kalibo, Aklan – Despite having been strongly struck mid-June by Typhoon Frank, Aklan's abaca industry earned a record high of P8,446,842.32 from its July harvest.

The Fiber Industry and Development Authority (FIDA) here disclosed that the abaca industry's performance last month as compared with its earnings the past months, was extra-ordinary.

FIDA-Aklan said the regular production of abaca fiber last month was further boosted as farmers also included fallen but mature abaca plants in their harvest.

"The strong typhoon was really an opportunity for abaca farmers in Aklan to earn more," said Zelenia Dalida, FIDA-Aklan Head.

Abaca farmers produced a total of 161,693 metric tons for July, according to FIDA. A kilo of abaca fiber averages P52.24 this period.

While 5 Aklan municipalities regularly produce abaca, other municipalities were included lately for expansion, with the provincial government headed by Gov. Carlito Marquez providing funds for the project.

The biggest abaca producer in the province is :Libacao town with 1,987 hectares planted as of 2007 producing assorted classes, while Madalag, Malinao and Ibajay focuses more on producing first class fiber, which fetches a better price of more or less P80.00 a kilo, according to FIDA.

Presently, FIDA is closely monitoring the status of abaca plants in Aklan. Last week, FIDA Regional Office, led by its OIC, Benjamin S. Gomo and other regional personnel as well as from the provincial office here conducted an information education campaign among students of Libacao National Vocational and Forestry High School (LNVFHS) on abaca diseases as well as on preventive measures.

FIDA deemed it wise to conduct lectures for LNVFHS students as their parents are mostly abaca farmers and could help in relaying to their parents what they learned in the info campaign.

Ms. Dalida said one common abaca disease is the bunchy top which also affects banana plants, but FIDA is now focusing more on the possible attack of root or corm weevil which is very destructive.

According to FIDA, the root or corm weevil, a kind of ground insect, attacks the corm of the abaca and the larvae feeds on it.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO) continuously pushes to develop technologies to help the abaca industry recover from the adverse effect of the debilitating diseases that hit the industry.

In a news article by Cory Martinez of People's Tonight, she wrote that researchers from the University of the Philippines Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) in Los Banos have developed bunchy top, mosaic and bract mosaic resistance in abaca (Musa textiles) through radiation-induced mutation.

Dr. Teodora Dizon, also from IPB and a professor in CSC-UPLB, said that the product may be out in the market after four years. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Boracay's mid-year tourist arrivals at .4 M; generate P7.3 billion in receipts

Kalibo, Aklan -- Tourists who flocked to this country's prime tourist destination – Boracay Island, numbered 400,037 from January to July of this year, according to the records of the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) here.

Records of the PTO also revealed that the arrivals generated a total of P7,354,040,185.80 in tourism receipts.

For the period January to July of this year, foreign tourists totaled 111,736 while domestic tourists were counted at 246,378. Overseas Filipinos, who also visited the island during the same period numbered 41,923.

Foreign tourist arrivals for the period registered highest during the month of February while domestic tourists had the highest number with 66,846 in the month of April. Overseas Filipinos flocked to the island with the highest number in February.

Tourist arrivals this year for the period January to July is higher when compared with PTO records last year, which was listed at 387,288. Last year's total number in tourist arrivals was at P596,748 which generated a total of P10,970,257,183.20 tourism receipts.

The on-going improvement of Kalibo Airport here, now an international gateway catering to international flights from South Korea and Taiwan is seen to further boost Boracay's tourists arrivals.

Presently, the airport terminal for incoming international flights is under construction and will soon be finished in six months' time, according to Kalibo Airport Manager Percy Malonesio.

Malonesio said that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo visited Aklan July 1 and 2 of this year to distribute relief goods to typhoon victims and to see the situation in Aklan, he was asked by the President of the project's time frame.

The national government under PGMA's administration gave P50 million to start the project, and additional fund in millions to complete it. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Homeless families to get P10,000 assistance from DSWD

Kalibo, Aklan-- Aklanon families rendered homeless by Typhoon Frank will soon start building their houses anew with the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

According to Evangeline Gallega of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) here, the DSWD is set to distribute P10,000.00 each to families whose houses were totally destroyed by Typhoon Frank.

Gallega said the DSWD is currently validating the actual number of families in the province whose houses were totally destroyed by the typhoon. Presently, the validation is focused on Kalibo.

The PDCC has listed more than 10,000 totally destroyed houses in its report on damages caused by Typhoon Frank which hit Aklan on June 21.

Meanwhile, the PDCC is currently listing names of those who perished during the typhoon in Aklan. Immediate families of these victims, according to the PDCC, will receive P10,000 each.

Fifty-two Aklanons died at the height of the typhoon, mostly due to drowning. Others were landslide victims while some were hit by fallen trees.

Numancia town had the highest number of deaths with 16, followed by Kalibo with 7 and Ibajay, 6. The towns of Banga, Makato, Malinao and New Washington had 4 deaths each; Lezo, 3; and Libacao, Tangalan and Madalag, 1 each. The towns of Malay, Nabas, Altavas, Balete and Buruanga had no deaths reported. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Homeless Kalibonhons continue to get DSWD financial assistance

Kalibo, Aklan -- Fifty-nine families in two Kalibo barangays whose houses were totally destroyed by Typhoon Frank will soon have new houses through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

This development came as DSWD Field Office 6' Disbursing Officer Ma. Lourdes Geganzo visited Aklan again to distribute checks amounting to P10,000 each to family heads to aid them in constructing their new homes.

According to Kalibo Mayor Raymar Rebaldo's office, a total of P590,000.00 was distributed recently to 59 family heads of Barangays Briones and Bachao Norte. Barangay Briones had 13 recipients while Bachao Norte had 46.

Kalibo Mayor Raymar Rebaldo and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Lolly Espino were also present during the checks distribution.

Meanwhile, the relocation site for typhoon victims in Barangay Tigayon is now being developed by the municipality of Kalibo. The area is being elevated and will soon have a perimeter fence. House plans and specifications are now being prepared and canvassing of materials is being done as the houses have to be constructed each with a specific amount of P50,000.

Forty-three recipients had been already identified by the DSWD to occupy the relocation site provided by LGU-Kalibo.

Early this month, DSWD-6 Field Office Regional Director Teresita Rosales came to Aklan to distribute checks for Emergency Shelter Assistance to typhoon victims of Barangays Tinigao and Tigayon in Kalibo and Barangay Bulwang in Numancia. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

School kids of Kalibo's 18 public schools to enjoy month-long feeding program

Kalibo, Aklan -- Pupils enrolled at Kalibo's 18 public elementary schools will be recipients of the town's nutritional feeding program, with the help of kind-hearted organizations like the OFWs of Eastern Visayas Province, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The nutritional feeding program came as an offshoot of a relief operation courtesy of the Saudi Arabia Hiligaynon Inc (SAHI) in cooperation with Skyfreight Forwarders, Filipino Organizations and POLO-OWWA Eastern Region Operations and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

As contribution to the program, the municipality of Kalibo under Mayor Raymar Rebaldo distributed 2 sacks of rice each to the 18 public elementary schools.

First to sample the nutritional feeding program were school pupils from Barangay Caano. It is seen that in the next few weeks, the program will also be started in other Kalibo barangays. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

LTO: new rules, regulations for protection of motorcycle drivers, passengers

Kalibo, Aklan -- The new rules and regulations for the use and operation of motorcycles on highways is for the protection of drivers and passengers, and not for oppression.

This was the emphasis given by Land Transportation Office (LTO) Aklan Officer-In-Charge Valtimor Conanan every time he talks over various radio stations here on the scheduled implementation of Administrative Order No. 2008-015 this coming month of September, which has drawn different reactions from motorcycle owners and family members in Aklan, some citing the order as oppressive.

The administrative order calls for motorcycle owners to use protective helmets approved by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to have only one passenger who shall also wear a protective helmet; and to use protective clothing such as heavy pants, heavy jackets, goggles, leather boots and gloves when driving.

Motorcycle drivers found violating these rules and regulations will be subjected to fines and penalties, according to Conanan.

Conanan said drivers and back riders who fail to wear prescribed helmet, will be fined P1,500 with accessory driver/rider attending a seminar or traffic safety management conducted by the LTO, while those found carrying more passengers other than the back rider or cargo other than the saddle bags and luggage carriers will be fined P1,000.00

For having defective accessories such as headlight, tail light, signal light, brake light, side mirror and horn, a fine of P1,000,00 will be imposed to the motorcycle driver.

Conanan also stressed that modifying any part of the original designs of a motorcycle or scooter without approval of the LTO and the DTI will cost the motorcycle owner P2,000.00 in fine.

Wearing of flip flops, sandals or slippers or being bare footed while operating motorcycle or scooter on a road or highway is also a violation of the new rules and regulations, and will cost the driver P500.00 for the first offense; P700.00 for the second offense and P1,000.00 and revocation of drivers license for the third offense.

The administrative order also provides maximum allowable speeds of motorcycles when on an open country roads, "through streets" or boulevards, on city and municipal streets and through crowded streets.

Conanan called on all Aklanons owning and driving motorcycles to follow the new administrative order. He said although the rules and regulations are new, people obeying these new rules will get used to them later on.

"If we follow the law, we need not be afraid of being apprehended and fined", Conanan said.

Meanwhile, in a bid to lessen accidents involving persons who continuously disregard the importance of helmets, a solon has filed a bill pushing for the mandatory use of helmets when riding bicycles, non-motorized scooters, roller skates or roller blades and skateboards.

In filing House Bill 4751, Rep. Narciso D. Santiago III said riding anything with wheels is very dangerous and most of the time, people are exposed to various injuries, especially head traumas.
He said it is common knowledge that majority of Filipinos do not wear helmets or any protective gear when they ride bikes and scooters, or use roller skates, roller blades and skateboards. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

CSC-Aklan reschedules exam due to "Frank"

Kalibo, Aklan -- Muddied application forms of would-be takers of the Civil Service Professional and Sub-Professional examinations of Aklan as well as the utter destruction of files and office equipment of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Field Office here wrought by Typhoon Frank last June 21 caused the CSC officials to decide to move the exams schedule from July 27 to November 16 of this year.

"The CSC office was flooded neck-deep on June 21. After the flood subsided, it left knee-high mud, which ruined our files, and all our office equipment. We have to re-set the examinations, as some application forms were completely destroyed, and we are still calling for those applicants to refile again," said Evelyn Ejar, Director II of the CSC here.

Ejar said that because of the new schedule, filing of application is open up to Oct. 16.

"The same requirements are needed: 4 pictures measuring 1.5 by 2 inches with white background and nametag which are not computerized or taken digitally; and an ID photocopy. For applicants whose IDs were destroyed by the flood, we advise them to get a Postal ID as replacement. A photocopy of the new ID should be submitted to us," Ejar said.

Ejar assured that those who have already filed for the July 27 examinations can take the tests without filing again except the 20 applicants who were requested to submit needed papers.

Presently, the CSC is trying to recover almost 10,000 personal files of appointees in the province from the national, provincial and local government units and water districts. The files, contained in folders which were placed in steel cabinets got wet and muddy, and are now carefully aired and dried outside the office at the Cultural Center.

Ejar said the files have to be saved because the CSC's help might be sought by Aklan government employees whose files in their homes were completely destroyed during the typhoon.

"Our office here was greatly affected by the typhoon but our services continue, although we have somehow slowed because of the loss of our files and the destruction of our equipment like computers, telephones, fax machines, etc. Our references, like memorandum circulars and other documents were destroyed, so we cannot immediately answer queries from clients. Sometimes we have to ask for copies from our regional office or from other personnel officers in the province whose files are intact," Ejar said.

Files of some 3,000 retirees were also destroyed by the flood. Ejar said these documents are also important because some retirees decide to reenter government service, while others are seeking benefits which were not yet granted to them and need to submit documents from the CSC.

CSC is now advising human resource development officers in Aklan to reconstruct their files in order to operate their offices smoothly. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Pamanang Lingkod Bayan to make civil servants' dreams come true – CSC

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Pamanang Lingkod-Bayan Iskolarship Program will make civil servants' dreams come true even if they are already gone, having been killed while in the performance of their duties.

"We in the government service have only a single dream for our children – that they finish their studies and obtain jobs so they would become independent as well as productive citizens. If civil servants, however, die while their children are still young, this dream will also die. With this program of the government through the Civil Service Commission, however, the children, even the spouses of civil servants are assured of finishing their studies so the dream still get realized", said Evelyn Ejar, CSC-Aklan Field Office Director.

Ejar is referring to the recently-forged agreement between the CSC and the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) providing university scholarships to the spouse or children of civil service personnel, including teachers and police, who die in the line of duty.

"It is but proper for the government to give continuous support to families of civil servants who died. This is a good program of the government for the children of civil servants which will help them (spouse and children) move on", Ejar said.

CSC Chair Ricardo Saludo and PASUC President Dr. Lauro Tacbas very recently signed the Memorandum of Agreement for the Pamanang Lingkod-Bayan Iskolarship Program at the CSC Head Office.

The scholarship MOA advances the CSC's advocacy for exemplary civil servants, which got a further boost August 1. At Saludo's oath-taking on July 25, he announced a fund to provide assistance to families of civil servants killed in the performance of their duties.

Vice President Noli de Castro, who administered Saludo's oath, gave P100,000 to the fund, and the new CSC Chair donated P100,000, with another half million in pledges from guests at the oath-taking. Mechanics of the fund are being finalized, so it can solicit contributions and eventually disburse funds once a target sum is reached.

The CSC-PASUC pact was mediated by Presidential Assistant for Education Dr. Mona Valisno. Under the MOA, the spouse and children of a deceased official or employee may be granted scholarship covering tuition and other fees for any course in PASUC universities and colleges, including graduate offerings.

"Many unsung public servants die in service of the motherland – police and prosecutors fighting criminals, teachers protecting ballots, forest rangers guarding watersheds, emergency workers rescuing flood victims, and other patriots in the government service," Saludo said. "While they are now gone from us, we must let their families feel the immense gratitude of our nation." (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

NFA's flood-damaged rice disposed thru bidding

Linabuan Sur, Banga, Aklan –The National Food Authority here was still able to earn from the sacks of flood-damaged rice in its warehouse.

When Typhoon Frank struck Aklan June 21, it also brought floods, which destroyed part of NFA's rice stored in its warehouse in Banga, Aklan.

According to Information Officer Judith Tindog, the 1,372 bags of flood-damaged rice in its warehouse were disposed properly through bidding.

A willing buyer, targeting the damaged rice to use as fertilizer, bought the rice at P59 per bag, according to Tindog.

"Some 1,000 bags of palay which also got wet during the flood were redried and were saved from being wasted," Tindog said.

Presently, Thailand rice sold for P25/kilo is available at Institutionalized Bigasan Sa Palengke in Aklan's major markets. NFA rice at P18.25/kilo is also available in Tindahan Natin outlets.

Tindog said NFA-Aklan is also selling rice to government and private agencies in Aklan at 1 bag a month.

All the agency heads should do is to write a letter and submit the list of employees who wish to buy Thailand rice from the NFA, now being sold for P1,250 per bag.

"Employees should affix their signature corresponding to their names," Tindog said. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan farmers selling palay to NFA to get cash incentives

Linabuan Sur, Banga, Aklan -- The National Food Authority (NFA) will be giving a cash incentive of P1,800.00 to individual farmers and cooperatives upon selling to the food agency a volume of P2,500 kilograms of clean and dry palay.

This is the latest offer of the NFA to show its seriousness in the implementation of intensified program of rice procurement to boost its buffer stock in Aklan so it will have reserves during lean months as well as during calamities and emergencies.

NFA-Aklan Information Officer Judith Tindog said farmers selling rice to NFA must be holders of farmer's passbook. The giving of incentives to farmers, Tindog said is up to December of this year or depending on further announcements of the agency.

The NFA is still buying palay at P17.00/per kilo, which consists of the year-round government support price of P11.00/kilo and P6.00/kilo special procurement incentive.

Tindog said the P1,800.00 incentive to farmers will be given on a one-time delivery. For as long however, as they are able to sell a maximum volume of P2,500 kilograms to NFA per delivery, they will be getting the P1,800 cash incentive.

Farmers in major but far rice-producing areas who also sell their produce to NFA's mobile procurement team will also get the same incentive. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan's PDCC cited most outstanding in Western Visayas

Kalibo, Aklan -- Aklan's Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) was acknowledged as the most outstanding in Western Visayas.

This much-welcomed news was shared by Ret. Police Maj. Paquito Saratiosa, PDCC-Aklan Executive Officer with Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez, PDCC Chairperson, and other officers and members of the council and members of the local media at the press conference held recently at the Provincial Guest House.

Ret. Maj. Saratiosa said the good news was announced during the recent Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) which he attended in Iloilo City.

Saratiosa also said that the RDCC also awarded 9 disaster heroes/groups from Aklan who risked their lives and limbs in saving and rescuing Aklanons when floodwaters in Aklan reached record levels, catching residents totally unprepared and in immediate danger.

Saratiosa said these groups were the 47th Infantry Battalion, the New Washington Fire Station, First Ready Reserve Battalion, the Kabalikat Civicom, Responsible Citizens Action Group, ROTC Volunteers for Emergency Response, Adventist Group, 601st Community Defense Center, World Vision, and the Philippine National Police.

PDCC-Aklan gathered many firsts, according to Saratiosa. It was the first to activate its Disaster Operation Center at 4:00 a.m. of June 1; first to activate OPLAN Ugnayan, first to submit disaster assessment report, and the first to activate the incident command system in C. Laserna St.

Aklan was also the first province to conduct a community-based Disaster Risk Management Training in the municipality of Batan after Typhoon Frank hit Aklan June 21.

The training, according to Saratiosa, was spearheaded by MDCC-Batan, with funds shelled out by the local government unit, headed by Mayor Delfina Ramos. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Donations received for Aklan's typhoon victims reach P56 M

Kalibo, Aklan -- Donations for Aklan's typhoon victims in cash and in kind forwarded to the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) here have reached P56,329,496.07.

The figure was given by Mrs. Elma S. Malbas, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer (PSWDO) at the press conference held recently at the Conference Room of the Provincial Guest House here attended by PDCC officers and members led by its chairperson, Governor Carlito S. Marquez and members of the local media.

The PSWDO report revealed that as of August 20, 2008, a total of P23,981,336.34 donations in kind was received by the PDCC while cash donations reached P7,812,749.88. Various non-government organizations (NGOs) too, some operating internationally also forwarded donations which were distributed directly to typhoon victims in Aklan's 17 towns. These NGOs, which properly coordinated with the PDCC before proceeding to their targeted areas, were able to extend P24,535,409.85 assistance in cash or in kind.

Presently, other NGOs, like the Dios Mabalos Po Foundation is still extending assistance through feeding programs for children in the province' different towns, and has vowed to stay for 6 months in Aklan for the mission.

Sacks of rice, boxes of bottled mineral water, boxes of sardines and noodles and family food packs, medicines and used clothing were forwarded to the PDCC and recorded as donations in kind. These came from various government, non government and personalities like the DSWD, NDCC, DOH, DOLE, PAGCOR, JICA, Province of Guimaras, US Navy, LBP, PETRON, Smart Communications, Universal Robina Corporation, Senators Loren Legarda,. Bong Revilla, Mar Roxas, Manny Villar, Kiko Pangilinan to name a few, and many others. Cash donations which included those given by the PCSO amounting to P2 million; Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte, P2 million, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Prov'l Government of Cebu, P2 million; Sunwest Water and Electric Co., P500,000 and other amounts ranging from P200,000 to the lowest at P5,000.00 from various organizations and personalities in Aklan and outside the country, were properly receipted by the Office of the Provincial Treasurer and deposited for the meantime at the province' official depository bank, according to OIC Provincial Treasurer Suzette Pioquid.

"All the donations are properly acknowledged and donors were recognized for their laudable contributions for the province' relief operations", said PSWD Officer Elma Malbas.

Saying that donations still keep coming in and with other civic organizations in Aklan yet to submit their report of assistance, Governor Marquez foresees that the donations' figures for Aklan's typhoon victims will still increase.

Gov. Marques said the cash donations, still undisbursed and in bank, will be used by the province for its rehabilitation efforts. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

NFA to Aklan farmers: sell your palay as gov't reserve for lean months, emergencies

Linabuan Sur, Banga, Aklan -- The National Food Authority (NFA) here is enjoining Aklan farmers to sell their palay produce to the food agency so the government will have buffer stock to reserve for lean months, emergencies and calamities, man-made or natural.

According to NFA-Aklan OIC Erna Young, the food agency in Aklan, with its local office and Grains Center in Linabuan Sur, Banga, Aklan, is currently buying clean, white and dry palay at P17.00 per kilogram.

This price, according to Ms. Young, is both offered to individual farmers and farmers' cooperatives or groups, with the following price breakdown : government support price – P11.00/kg., and additional special procurement incentive – P6.00 for a total of P17.00.

Farmers selling their palay to NFA-Aklan must bring their farmer's passbook, while walk-in sellers like agricultural workers, thresher operators and others could also sell their palay to the NFA provided they have with them endorsements/certification from authority or agency like the National Irrigation Administration, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Development Authority and Punong Barangay, Municipal Agriculturist Officers and Local Chief Executives.

NFA-Aklan's Grains Center is open from Monday to Friday while its mobile procurement team regularly goes to distant-palay producing areas to buy the farmers' produce there. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

NFA distributes 31,413 bags of rice in July

Linabuan Sur, Banga, Aklan –The National Food Authority (NFA) here was able to distribute some 31,413 bags of rice for the month of July.

According to NFA-Aklan Officer-In-Charge Erna Young, these bags of rice were distributed last month through Tindahan Natin outlets which include those DSWD-funded and self funded, BBO-LGU outlets, PAGCOR, IFAD, BJMP, institutionalized BSP, and NFA District outlet.

NFA-Aklan also distributed rice through its rolling stores, charitable institutions and government agencies, PNRC and NDCC and other private institutions.

According to NFA-Aklan, 90% of the 35,000 bags were distributed in July out of the food agency's target in Aklan. With the rice distribution, Tindahan Natin outlets were able to earn P3,047,662.50 while the IBGP earned P13,292,562.50. Earnings of the local government units on the other hand, reached P711,875.00 while rolling stores earned a total P1,610,795.75. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

No problem with supply, price of flour in Aklan – DTI

Kalibo, Aklan -- There's no problem with the supply and price of flour in Aklan, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) here.

DTI-Aklan's new Provincial Director, Engr. Diosdado P. Cadena Jr. said there are stable suppliers of flour for the region, and bakers in Aklan are assured of a steady supply for their needs.

Director Cadena stressed, however, that should there be complaints in Aklan on overpricing, the DTI will not hesitate to act against violators, just like what they did to some erring business establishments here after Typhoon Frank hit Aklan.

In Manila, DTI Secretary Peter Favila has called on local millers to explain why the price of flour, is increasing when the price in the world market has been going down since April.

DTI's monitoring report shows the price of hard flour has been stable since May, ranging from P870 to P980 per 25 kg. bag.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the immediate procurement of the equipment needed for the mass productionof flour made from vegetables.

The President issued the directive to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), according to Press Secretary Jesus Dureza.

Dureza said the mass production of flour made from vegetables would cut down significantly the country's importation of the costly wheat flour.

Aside from the mass production of vegetable flour, the President also launched recently the mass production of more nutritious vegetables noodles from the Benguet State University to help cushion the impact of soaring food prices on poor families.

The mass production of vegetable flour and vegetable noodles will definitely boost the farmers' income, provide an alternative market for local vegetables and lower prices due to lesser dependence on imported and costly wheat flour, the DTI said. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Philippine economy is resilient – BSP

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Philippine economy is resilient, defying gravity and is on a stable accelerating course.

This was the emphasis given by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) here when its officials and personnel coming from Manila conducted a Public Information Campaign (PIC) at the Conference Hall of Aklan State University Main Campus in Banga, Aklan recently.

According to the BSP, the good performance of the country's economy was due to various factors such as a well educated labor force, stable macroeconomic development, comfortable external position and the strengthening of the peso.

These factors were cited as testimonies and observations by some of the world's financial analysts and economic observers, shown in a video presentation before a lecture on Recent Economic Developments, one of the topics in the information campaign. The lecture was delivered by Racquel Claveria, Bank Officer IV, BSP Manila.

Claveria said the country now enjoys a strong Balance of Payment position boosted by foreign exchange inflows from remittances, exports and investments and tourism receipts.

Other speakers in the info campaign were Ernando de Leon, Deputy Director, Department of Economic Research, BSP, who talked on the Role of the BSP in the Philippine Economy, and Rino Zerna, Bank Officer II who talked on Microfinance.

According to De Leon, the BSP is the issuer of the Philippine currency, the official depository of the national government, the banker's bank and lender of last resort.

Zerna, on the other hand, talked on the role of the BSP on Microfinancing, and the bank's various programs for microfinance which targets as clients the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Zerna emphasized that MSMEs are possible way out of poverty as well as a way toward economic development.

"Rural and urban poor in the region rely on micro and small enterprises to augment income", Zerna told the info campaign's participants, composed mostly of students from Aklan State University, faculty members, university officials and the local media.

BSP-Aklan Branch Head Leonora Templonuevo said that the BSP info campaign had been on-going for nine years already and intends to brief the public on the most recent economic and financial developments in the country, improve the country's basic financial education and enhance public awareness on the role of the BSP in the economy.

According to BSP, it has already conducted 65 PICs all over the country since 2000 attended by more than 4,300 representatives from the academe, business and labor sectors, the banking community, government and non-government organizations as well as members of the press. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan on the road to recovery, says governor

Kalibo, Aklan -- Two months after Typhoon Frank battered Aklan, Governor Carlito Marquez said the province is now on the road to recovery.

Governor Marquez issued this statement when he delivered a message at the Planning Workshop attended by members of Aklan Rehabilitation Task Force held recently at the Gov. Corazon Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center at Brgy. Old Buswang.

Governor Marquez also revealed that help still keeps pouring in for Aklan typhoon victims from government and non-government organizations like the Dios Mabalos Foundation and the International Red Cross.

"Last week, the province received P2 million donation from the province of Cebu through Governor Gwen Garcia", Gov. Marquez revealed.

The kind gestures, according to the governor, give the Aklanons feelings of satisfaction that many people and organizations are concerned for their welfare, however, he said the time has come to submit the province' detailed rehabilitation program, thus the holding of the planning workshop by the task force.

Governor Marquez said there is a need for a detailed rehabilitation workshop, in keeping with a bill filed in Congress by House representatives from Western Visayas seeking a P15 billion fund for Bangon Panay Rehabilitation Program.

"Aklan should be part of Panay's Rehabilitation, being the worst-hit among the island's provinces. Even during one of President Gloria Macapagal's Cabinet meeting, she acknowledged that Aklan province suffered the worst from Typhoon Frank", Governor Marquez told the task force members coming from the national, provincial and non-government organizations.

Because of Typhoon Frank's devastation in Aklan which caused strong winds to destroy houses and infrastructure in the province and also brought the deepest flood in Kalibo and Numancia leaving tons of mud in streets and homes, PGMA visited Aklan two days in a row on July 1 and 2 to distribute relief goods, confer with local officials and talk with typhoon victims.

Governor Marquez said the rehabilitation plan should focus more on the rehabilitation and dredging of Aklan River as well the drainage system of Kalibo.

Governor Marquez said that the calamity that hit Aklan also gave an opportunity for the province to help improve Kalibo's drainage system along national, provincial, municipal and barangay roads by having the chance to seek funds from the national government.

With tons of mud still present in the mountains of Libacao town, Governor Marquez said the province is planning to buy a river dredging equipment because rehabilitation of the river through dredging will be a continuing activity to protect residents of Kalibo and Numancia. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)