Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kalinga Episcopals to educate people on RH Bill

By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
TABUK CITY, Kalinga – In line with the policy of the worldwide Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) to uphold dignity of life, the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon (EDNL) will conduct activities intended to inform and educate people on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill which is now the subject of acrimonious debates in the Congress.
EDNL Bishop Renato Abibico said that there is a need to educate people on the contents and demands of the bill even as he observed that the bill does not just address family planning but maternal health.
“We need the bill so there will be an oversight on maternal health issues. For example, there are so many contraceptives sold in the market whose quality are suspect and must therefore be regulated,” Abibico said.
Abibico said that the Episcopal Church leaves matters relative to procreation to the husband and wife and that with the RH Bill, they would be adequately informed of their choices and of the possible consequences.
In its 8th Synod in Sagada, Mtn. Province, the ECP passed a resolution expressing its full support for House Bill No. 5043 otherwise known as the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 and had urged for its immediate passage.
The resolution declared that the ECP “recognizes the need for family planning and responsible parenthood as a stewardship to uphold the sanctity of life” and resolved that the ECP will continue to educate its members on issues pertaining to dignity of life.
The resolution affirms the statement Prime Bishop Edward Malecdan issued last April 11 calling for the passage of the bill.
The position of the Anglican Communion or worldwide Episcopal Church on the issue of family planning was first enunciated in the 1958 Lambeth Conference when the church stated that family planning is a decision that couples have to make with the aid of their conscience.
“In line with our social concerns program I ask Synod to come up with a resolution in support of the RH Bill being debated in congress. It is a call and in support for the enactment of the bill which is actually pro-life and pro-women and -children, not anti-life as propagated by those against it. The ECP voice on this matter should resonate clearly to be heard by our law makers and by President Aquino himself who has recently pronounced his unequivocal support for the bill,” Malecdan said in his opening message during the Synod.**
SOCIAL PENSION FOR SENIOR CITIZENS-- Governor Jocel Baac gives P1,500.00 to each of the 122 beneficiaries of the government’s social pension program for indigent senior citizens in Tabuk City May 25. The amount represents the pension of the senior citizens for the first quarter. Under the program, identified beneficiaries will receive P500.00 a month until death. Looking on is Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Director Leonardo Reynoso.** Photo by Estanislao Albano, Jr.

GROs go guerilla in Tabuk City

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) member Sandra Mejia here has called upon the barangay officials and residents of barangays Casigayan and Dagupan Centro to enforce their prohibition against guest relations officers (GROs) from working in the their territories.
She sounded the call amidst information that some GROs who were displaced when the two barangays stopped the operation of the videokes are now operating guerilla type by posing as mere waitresses in their former establishments and picking up customers on their own.
Mejia said that if the information is true, then the problem has become more complicated as the city can no longer check on the health of the GROs. Under city ordinance, GROs cannot serve customers if they do not have pink cards which they obtain after subjecting themselves to medical examination in the rural health units of the city.
She said that the act of the two barangays banning GROs from working in their barangays which is laudable will be for naught if the GROs could ply their trade clandestinely in the two barangays.
Councilor Faustino Teckney who chairs the committee on rules of the SP said that if the information on the GROs going underground is true, then there is a need for the LGU to deploy an exclusive task force to enforce the ban on the GROs .
Dagupan Centro Barangay Captain Castor Cayaba said that in not issuing clearances to the videoke bars in the barangay, they were only granting the old petition of the residents living near the night establishments who complained of sleepless nights due to sound from the bars, fights among customers, marital conflict and the practice of the bar girls of wearing skimpy clothes in public.
Cayaba clarified that they are still issuing clearances to these establishments but these expressly prohibits the employment of GROs by the videoke bars.
Nelson Dapasen, barangay chief of Casigayan, informed that they closed the lone videoke bar operating in the barangay because it was situated near a school and a church.
Dagupan Weste Barangay Captain Antonio Bonilla said that he had already issued barangay clearances to all three establishments when he received the complaints against videoke bars in the barangay.
On the other hand, Magsaysay Barangay Captain Benito Caysuen said that only one of the four videoke bars operating in the barangay has clearance from his office. A source at the City Treasury, however, insisted that they do not issue business permits unless they are attached with a barangay clearance.
Both Caysoen and Bonilla promised they will no longer issue barangay clearances to establishments employing GROs or bar girls come 2012.
Revenue Collection Clerk Pierre Galicia who heads the existing task force implementing regulations on videoke bars said that his group cannot keep watch over establishments on a 24-hour basis as they are undermanned.
He said that last year, they closed all the videoke bars in the city for various violations but that this year, the establishments have so far been complying.

Corn threatens to wipe out the coffee industry in Kalinga

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Government officials here called on coffee farmers to stop the conversion of their coffee plantations amidst the widespread clearing of ersthwhile coffee lands to give way to corn production.
City Administrator Laurence Bayongan singled out barangay Magnao which used to be one of the leading coffee producers in the city but has since lost the distinction due to the inroads of corn.
“By converting the coffee plantations, we are not only killing the coffee industry but we are aggravating climate change and inviting environmental disasters,” Bayongan said even as he urged farmers in the city to plant new coffee trees.
Grace Baluyan, director of the Department of Trade and Industry here, said that the conversion of coffee plantations to cash crops is clouding the prospects of the coffee processing industry in the province.
Baluyan said that there are seven established coffee processors in the province one of which is already exporting its products abroad.
“The future is not very bright for the coffee processing industry but it’s a challenge we must address. At the moment, the volume of production in the province could still supply the needs of the coffee processors but what we are anticipating is when the volume of orders will increase,” Baluyan said.
Baluyan said that farmers should resume planting and tending to their farms to support the coffee processing industry in the province adding that of special concern is the Arabica variety which is a component of the ground coffee being packed in the province.
“The processors are importing their Arabica beans from Ifugao and Mt. Province because there are no Arabica plantations in the province,” Baluyan said.
Domingo Bakilan who represented Govenor Jocel Baac during the launching of the coffee processing center of the Gawidan Farmers’ Association (GFA) in barangay Bagumbayan on May 25 that the time when the processors will buy their coffee from other provinces should be averted through the planting of more coffee trees.
Teodoro Delson, Department of Labor and Employment (DOST) assistant regional director, said during the same occasion that the coffee processing industry in the province would have a hard time competing with similar products from other provinces if there is lack of raw materials.
He said that to compete globally in quality and price, there is a need for cheaper inputs which could only happen if there is more coffee production in the locality.
Delson urged the GFA to live up to the promise in the box of their coffee products because if not, the whole coffee processing industry in the province will be prejudiced.
He said that producing processed coffee which quality will satisfy customers will build the reputation of coffee products of the province which could even be passed on to the next generation.
Tabuk City Agricultural Technologist Felicitas Balmores said that the coffee processing project is a joint undertaking of the DOLE, the office of Congressman Manuel Agyao, the GFA, the DTI, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) , the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Tabuk City LGU.
Balmores said that the DOLE funded the fabrication of the roaster and grinder worth P780,000.00, the office of Agyao provided P100,000.00 for the building which the GFA completed from its own funds, the DTI conducted trainings worth P30,000.00 in addition to assisting in the packaging, TESDA footed the labor and honorarium of the operator who trained the GFA members, the DOST funded the packaging at P40,000.00 and Tabuk City has committed P60,000.00 for accessories.

Monday, May 16, 2011

YOUTH FOR THE ENVIRONMENT-- These college students are members of the Youth Community Service Club, a partner of Tabuk City for environmental concerns composed of local college students. During their free time, YCSC members are currently potting thousands of tree seeds in time for the seedlings to be planted this coming rainy season.**Photo by Estanislao Albano, Jr.

Tabuk OFW regrets travel ban to Libya

By Estanislao Albano, Jr.

TABUK CITY, Kalinga– Robert Guinaban, 41, one of the OFWs from this city who fled Libya in March as the unrest there mounted, rues the travel ban imposed by the government on that strife-torn country.
That’s after fellow OFWs who opted to stick it out in Libya recently posted in the Facebook social networking site that “we can now go back provided we pay own air fare.”
Guinaban said that he is presently trying to verify the information with the recruitment agency which facilitated the deployment of the latest batch of Filipino nurses to the Tripoli Medical Center (TMC) where he worked as medical technologist in the last eight years.
Guinaban regrets that he cannot go back to Tripoli because he already knows the culture in that country and, on the other hand, if he is fortunate enough to land a job in another country, he will have “to go back to zero.”
He was one of the job seekers who attended the jobs fair held byTabuk City in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Employment last May 6.
He applied for a medical technologist position in Saudi Arabia.
Guinaban who used to work at the Kalinga Provincial Hospital before going abroad in 2002 said that it was hard to leave the TMC, a government-owned hospital, as they were treated well by the management. He added that at one point, there were around a thousand Filipino medical workers in the hospital.
As the conflict escalated and foreign nationals started fleeing the country, the management assured them that they are safe in Tripoli but at the same time, the Philippine Embassy told them that the situation was getting worse and that they should leave via Tunisia.
At that time, they already heard of OFWs walking in the desert as the vehicles they were supposed to use were destroyed by marauders and also of OFWs who were turned back at the Tunisian border because they did not have travel documents.
In the first week of March, the TMC doctors met with them again and repeated their assurance no harm will befall them but this was being belied by the increasing explosions they heard around the city and more so by the increasing number of injured and dead being brought to the hospital.
“During the height of the conflict, the daily average of dead brought to the hospital was 10 to 15 and there was even one time when there was a clash that 25 dead people were brought to the hospital,” Guinaban recalled.
“As the conflict did not show signs of easing, most of us finally decided to leave. We could not take a gamble because we have families. Those who decided to stay are mostly single,” Guinaban said.
As of this writing there are still five OFWs from this province in Tripoli, four of them in the TMC.
Guinaban related that they were fetched from the TMC by buses hired by the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) and brought to the Philippine Community School in Tripoli where they stayed for two days.
They were then brought to the port where they boarded the ship Endeavor Lines which took them to Crete, Greece where they were accommodated in a resort.
After three days, they were fetched by Philippine Air Lines planes and they finally arrived in the country on March 10.
According to the Tabuk City Public Employment Services Office, 276 of the 279 job seekers who participated in the May 6 jobs fair passed the initial screening and were told by the eight recruitment agencies which took part in the activity to wait for their call for further interview.
Tabuk City is conducting jobs fairs regularly as part of its program to assist constituents in finding employment here or abroad.** 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No immediate solution yet to stray pigs

LACNOG’S HEADACHE. This sow strayed into the barangay public square of Lacnog, Tabuk City, Kalinga some minutes after the culmination program of the Ubuhung Festival on April 20, 2011 was over. It is one of the hundred native pigs roaming freely in the village.** Photo by Estanislao Albano, Jr. 

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Leaders of Lacnog, this city, were able to crack the problems of highway robbery and cattle-rustling which used to give their barangay a bad name but they are no match to the native pigs which freely roam the village including the national road passing through it.
During the Ubuhung Festival held to mark the 24th founding anniversary of the barangay on April 18-20, 2011, two former barangay captains admitted that making Lacnog folks confine their pigs to their respective compounds is a very tough job.
During his term in 1997, Fidel Pan-oy initiated the enactment of an ordinance penalizing owners of stray animals but gave up trying to implement it because the pig owners refused to obey.
“Initially, some of the pig owners constructed pens. The pens were close to their houses because we have small residential lots here. With the waste of the pigs now concentrated in one place, the owners said that they will get sick due to the smell. We, Butbuts, could not stand foul odor,” Pan-oy said.
Roberto Dawagan who was barangay captain from 2007 to 2010 admits that motorists complain about the pigs due to the possibility their presence on the road will cause accidents adding that there was already an instance where a motorcycle-riding man passing Lacnog took a spill due to a pig on his path.
He tried to reason with the pig owners that aside from preventing possible road accidents, restraining their pigs would help in the maintenance of cleanliness in the barangay and would give other residents the opportunity to do backyard gardening but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Dawagan said that most residents of Lacnog raise native pigs because it comes next to their farms as a source of income.
“Lacnog is the main source of the native pigs being sold in the market in Bulanao,” Dawagan said.
There is a steady demand for native pigs in the locality not only because of their palatability but also because of their cultural usage as fortune-telling animals. The appearances of the liver and the bile or gall bladder are read by an elder as omens.
Well aware of the failure of his predecessors to find a solution to the problem, newly-elected barangay captain Wallis Ngayaan has come up with his own solution: the construction of a fence that will separate the residential area and the road so that the pigs cannot stray into the road.
The trouble is it cannot still be known immediately if the solution will work because it was not funded this year but is included in the project list for next year.
City officials have been nagging Lacnog officials to do something about the pigs with Councilor Lester Lee Tarnate, chairman of the committee on tourism of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, requesting the barangay officials just this week to get the owners to tether their pigs because the sight of pigs freely roaming around does not create a good impression to visitors especially so that the barangay is at the entrance to the city and the province.**