Ecological Governance (EcoGov)

Impressed on the success story of the municipal government's management of natural resources and implementation of local development projects, officials of the Ecological Governance (EcoGov) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) were here Wednesday to study how the practice can be replicated in other local government units.

Regional EcoGov Coordinator May Elizabeth Ybañez initiated the visit, as supported by Provincial Director Rustica Mascariñas of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Based on the success story, DILG aimed to design a plan to assist and help LGUs in the formulation of policies that shall facilitate replication of the project and for LGU officials to know the technology employed in the successful implementation of the projects like the Coastal Resource Management (CRM), Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) and the Forest and Forestland Management (FFM) in this municipality.

In his welcome address, Mayor Juanario Item took pride in the municipal government's effective implementation of the three big projects, which he attributed to the full support of the provincial government, legislative department, his staff, non-government organizations (NGOs), barangay officials and the constituents of this town.

At the Carlos Garcia Memorial Session Hall, Municipal Engineer Lorenzo Flores, the focal person on ISWM, gave a PowerPoint presentation on the components and implementation process of ISWM, CRM, FFM and the updated municipal profile.

After the presentation, Mayor Item brought the group to the one and only LGU-managed interpretive center of the country, for them to see personally the display at the gallery.

Ratchelle Savedra, center interpreter, gave additional descriptions on the pictures displayed in the center.

The visitors said they were impressed on the proper and successful implementation of the ISWM and CRM of the town.

The group proceeded to Duero, dubbed as the town of vegetables and spices, where the biggest vermin-culture is found.

The group was composed of the municipal local government operations officers (MLGOOs), Sangguniang Bayan (SB) members, the municipal planning and development coordinator (MPDC), SB secretary, Association of Barangay Council (ABC) president and the focal person on SWM and CRM project.

They were representing the towns of Antequera, Baclayon, Balilihan, Batuan, Bilar, Buenavista, Calape, Candijay, Carmen, Clarin, Cortes, Dagohoy, Dauis, Dimiao, Duero, Getafe, Inabanga, Jagna, Lila, Loay, Loboc, Pilar, Sagbayan, San Isidro, San Miguel, Sevilla, Sierra Bullones, Trinidad, Tubigon, Ubay, and Tagbilaran.

San Isidro Mayor Apolinar Gumanid Jr. and Batuan Mayor Gregoria Pepito, together with Ybañez and Director Mascariñas led the group.

Join Consumer Education Seminar

To add more insight to the buying public on the purchase of their basic needs, the officers of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Tagbilaran held a seminar here on August 19.

The activity, held at the Capt. Goyo Casenas hall, gathered the 33 barangay presidents of the Federated Senior of the Federated Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP), and some members of the Jagna Market Vendors Association (Jamavea).

Market Supervisor Peter Jamero welcomed the DTI visitors, while for the other visitors, OIC Marcionela Reyes the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (Osca) Head Victorino Nayga Sr., and municipal FSCAP president Gregorio Tavera.

DTI-Tagbilaran Division Chief Jose Hibaya led the group of resource persons, together with Concordia Erano and Lucille Autentico - -both trade and industry specialists.

Hibaya explained the senior citizens' expanded privileges which interests most of the old-age group.

Erano discussed the consumers rights and privileges.

Other interesting points taken up by the DTI division chief were the part that categorizes the kind of business entrepreneurs- -public market vendors, the proprietors of big business outlets outside of the market but within the town, and sari-sari stores in the barangays.

Erano also discussed the eight duties and privileges of the seminars considered as basis and fundamental duties of the buyers.

Among the concerns raised during the open forum were the need of a strict price watchdog, to guard consumers from unscrupulous businessmen who tend to manipulate the prices.

Talibon Ghost Dam To Be Completed?

By Kit Bagaipo, the Bohol Chronicle: By June 2009, the controversial Talibon Small Reservoir Impounding Project (TSRIP) is expected to be completed.

This, despite petitions by the graft-watch group Bacosh (Boholanos Against Corruption, Oppression and Social Harassment) that civil works should be suspended while a case is still pending at the Ombudsman which accused the project's former manager Engr. Calixto Seroje and 4 other National Irrigation Authority (NIA) officials of irregularities in implementing the project.

Interviewed over DYRD Inyong Alagad yesterday, NIA project manager Engr. Modesto Membreve bared that starting June next year, the irrigation project will start impounding water in order to finally serve 1,000 hectares and some 1,000 within its service area.

The canals going to the farmlands will be finished simultaneously with dam embankment, Membreve said.          

The Talibon Dam, which can hold 5 million cubic meters of water in its reservoir, has an estimated cost of P299 million, as stated in its revised budget for contract, which was formulated during the time of then project manager Seroje.

Membreve was quick to put off discussions on the controversy hounding the Talibon Dam, saying that when he took over as project manager in 2003, he requested that he will start from zero, meaning he civil works during his watch be treated separately from whatever the percentage of completion of the project during his predecessor.

According to Membreve the delay of the project is caused by the small allocation it is getting from the national government.

However, he has been lobbying to top NIA officials that fund releases be increased in the coming months to meet the June 2009 deadline.

Deployment of Philippine Naval Ship in Balicasag Island

By Angeline Valencia

What was just an approach to protect the marine resources in Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands now turned into a security move to screen possible spillover of conflict in Mindanao to Bohol.

During its executive committee meeting Thursday morning last week, the Provincial Development Council (PDC) discussed the proposed establishment of marine parks/sanctuaries in Balicasag        

SECURITY AT SEA. In case of a spillover of conflict in Mindanao via the sea waters of Bohol, this naval patrol boat will be at the forefront guarding the Tagbilaran-Panglao-Balicasag-Pamilacan area. Docked at the city port, the vessel will soon be strategically deployed somewhere at Balicasag Island. Foto DANNY REYES
Island in Panglao, and Pamilacan Island in Baclayon as a matter of protecting the marine resources in the area.

However, in a late night meeting Friday with officers of the Philippine Army in Bohol, Governor Erico Aumentado said that his scheduled meeting on September 1 with Philippine Navy Admiral Golez and Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) General Manager Mark Lapid in Manila may already include a "much more important subject" related to the possible spillover of conflict in Mindanao.

The discussion may then go beyond about just patrolling the seawaters of Tagbilaran to Panglao-Balicasag-Pamilacan and adjacent areas for marine resources protection, the governor said.
          
"I will be meeting with flag officer, Admiral Golez on Sept. 1 in Manila. We will finalize the naval patrol of Philippine Navy in seawaters of Tagbilaran to Panglao-Balicasag-Pamilacan- -in areas which are vulnerable. Capt. [Honorio Robert] Balanon already committed to me during the PDC meeting, that they will be patrolling the area.

Actually, at that time, when we discussed this matter, I was only thinking of protecting our marine resources in that area. But this time, I think we need to discuss much more important subject of my discussion with Admiral Golez," Aumentado shared to the officers of Philippine Army in the meeting Friday at Prawn Farm in Island City Mall, Tagbilaran City.

In the middle of the meeting, Aumentado called up through cellphone, and instructed Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) executive officer, retired Col. Raul Mendez, to prepare a contingency plan and present it during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting on August 28 in Trinidad after a civic action in the morning.

The contingency plan is in preparation on the possible return of Boholanos now based in Mindanao, in case the MILF-military conflict worsens.

"In fact, they already have the "Ilaga" there and the civilians are already asking to be allowed to arm themselves," Aumentado said as he expressed the urgency of an action to prepare against the worst scenario.

Aumentado mentioned it as just a side topic in the meeting last Friday night to finalize the arrangement with the 802nd Infantry Brigade in the implementation of the school building construction program of the provincial government and Department of Education in partnership with the soldiers.

NFA Buys More Rice

Aiming to help poor farmers to sell their harvests at a much higher price, the National Food Authority (NFA) here is gearing up to buy 100,000 bags of palay this cropping season.

This figure is thrice as much as its regular procurement program in the past years, bared NFA Bohol assistant manager Ma. Fe Evasco during an interview over dyRD's top-rated Inyong Alagad.

The NFA will also be giving a P1,800 incentive to farmers for every 50 bags of palay harvested this season.

While private commercial buyers are reportedly buying at about P12 per kilo, the NFA will purchase it at a higher price Evasco said.

"Wed like to inform our farmers that that the NFA is buying at P17 a kilo and we are also offering P1,800 fertilizer cash incentive for every farmer who can sell 50 bags at one time," Evasco announced.

The P17 per kilo is the standard government support price for farmers, Evasco explained. This is even as reports last week bared that commercial buyers have started buying palay stocks at P12 a kilo.

"We have mobile procurement and stationary buying stations at our warehouses where farmers can deliver or sell their products, but unluckily, [unlike the commercial buyers,] we can not give out cash advances because it would be against government auditing rules," she emphasized.

A farmer whose palay grains approximate 97% purity and 15% moisture content can sell it at P17 while the NFA adjusts its standard buying price if the quality is low, Evasco hinted.

This as the government even more incentives to farmers who would opt to go for certified rice and hybrid and tested high yield varieties, Evasco pointed out.

Over the tihap system, Evasco explained that farmers who get an early cash advance from commercial buyers are at the mercy of them who now demand low buying price.

According to her, only private buyers with NFA accreditation are legally allowed to engage in rice buying. But, she also admitted there is no law banning commercial buyers from offering P12.

If commercial buyers offer prices higher than the government support price, it would be beneficial to the farmers. But below the support price, the government can be an option for farmers, she bared.

She also blamed the tihap, a crude cash advance strategy which binds farmers into selling their harvest low to the commercial buyers who earlier, lent them cash.

The situation has also alarmed Governor Erico Aumentado who directed Provincial Administrator Tomas Abapo to investigate the widespread sabotaging of palay buying prices by private rice buyers.

Mining Law and Rights of Land Owners

The proposed mining ordinance of the province is seen as a long-overdue mechanism for the recognition and protection of the rights of the Boholano landowners and the environment of Bohol.

In the absence of the provincial law, the mining applications filed with the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), thru the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), are approved without the affected landowners' consent.

Even if there are non-Boholanos among them, those who are granted mining concessions in Bohol just pay the required government fees thru the higher office of DENR or its direct arm and then earn lavishly.

They will collect royalty fees from quarry extractors, for example, whose permits cover the areas which are already claimed mining concessions of the former as approved not by the local DENR-EMB office.

The concerned legal owners get nothing from the natural bounties mined from their lands, lamented Board Member Alfonso Damalerio II who principally authored the Bohol Mining Ordinance pending for second reading approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).

The young capitol legislator said his measure seeks to correct errors long tolerated simply for the absence of an apt provincial law.

Damalerio, chairman of the SP environment committee, had earlier asked in a resolution the DENR-MGB to suspend all applications for mining concessions in Bohol while the provincial board is yet tackling his proposed ordinance.

The legislative measure, as filed and initially deliberated, contains 17 articles and 46 sections, and governs 14 types of permits, including those already provided for in the existing quarry ordinance of the province.

The latter types of quarry extraction licenses have been incorporated to the proposed mining ordinance.

The ordinance also seeks to prevent the deceptive practice of using dummies in applying for mining rights

This use of fronts is evident in DENR records, according to Damalerio.

He said it is also high time to establish a stringent local mining policy that gives premium to the balance between economy and ecology.- Source: Bohol Chronicle

DYRD Radio Pulso Program Back with Vengeance

The top-rated commentary/ public affairs program "Pulso" will resume broadcast tomorrow after a weeklong suspension due to its advertisers' withdrawal from the program.

Program host, Kagawad Roberto "Batchoy" Alba said, after meeting commitments to the radio station, the program will be back to its normal broadcast tomorrow, 9 to l0 a.m. right after the no. 1 radio program "Inyong Alagad."

Alba vowed to radio listeners to continue his crusade against bad governance especially on graft and corruption at the local government units.

"No amount of pressure can stop me from this crusade," he stressed.

It maybe recalled that "Pulso" suffered financial set backs after majority of its sponsors terminated their contracts. Alba alleged that his program sponsors were pressured by the office of Tagbilaran Mayor Dan Lim to pull out their support.

The mayor denied having pressured Pulso's advertisers. In fact, he offered to pay and support the radio program if only to be proven "innocent" of the accusations.

Alba thanked the "new breed of advertisers" who are behind his program, most of whom would wish to remain anonymous.

"It is very heart warming to know that the silent majority of the people are behind Pulso's crusade against graft and corruption," Alba concluded as he vowed to be back on air with a renewed commitment to serve the public.

Multi-million Philippine Irrigation Scam

It took up all of four years to build up a strong case to expose the so-called Talibon dam scam but in one fell swoop it was gone after the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed the case for lack of substantial legal basis.

The dismissal ended the lonely saga of Engr. Nilo Sarigumba, chair of the Boholanos Against Corruption, Oppression and Social Harassment (BACOSH) who was so obsessed of sending the perpetrators to jail only to be waylaid by a resolution he viewed with suspicion because of the machinations of some unseen and powerful hands.

Asked to react on insinuations of unseen hands as behind the case dismissal, Gov. Erico Aumentado minced no words in saying that it came from a polluted source whose motive was to discredit the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman.
When appraised of the case's dismissal, Sarigumba, in a radio interview apparently threw up his hands in surrender and invoked divine justice to punish the perpetrators.

Although the complaint was made up of several accused who are officials and employees of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Sarigumba's main target was Engr. Calixto Seroje, project manager of the questionable dam project.

The only hope, albeit slim, of the complainant was a motion for reconsideration which his legal counsel Artemio Cabatos has filed last August 19.

In his motion, Sarigumba through Cabatos cited an instance in dismissing the case where the graft investigator departed from the law and the evidence and that, resultantly, it has deprived the complainants---sovereign citizen-taxpayers-their day in court.

In dismissing the complaint, the Ombudsman through Sarah Vergara, graft investigation and prosecution officer II, based its findings on several considerations impelling her to yield to the presumption of regularity in the implementation of the project, at least for the moment.

While the Ombudsman admitted that it saw amidst the assortment of findings gathered by the NIA after its fact-finding investigation was the indubitable complexity and breath of the works involved, it also took cognizance to the fact that the project was not yet completed and its finances not yet been subjected to a post-audit by the Commission on Audit.

According to the anti-graft investigator, the COA conducted an inspection of the project on January 26, 1999 and it thereafter declared that it " interposed no objection of the reported 49.0l% project accomplishment as of December 1998".

MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

Zeroing in on the four years of painstaking wait for the case to prosper in court, the motion for reconsideration instead lamented its outcome which it described as a strange verdict of dismissal for lack of substantial legal basis.

At least seven points were raised by the complainants' lawyer in filing the motion for reconsideration.

Calling it with cranial and cardiac pains, they are:

1. The four years that the instant case took before it was resolved is, in itself, annoying to the citizens of this country who care about the rule of law, official probity and a regime of unadulterated justice.

2. Complainants got a dash of hope when the NIA Fact-Finding Team reported irregularities in the questioned project, and a "Final Evaluation Report" categorically declared the presence of prima facie case against respondents, particularly Seroje.

3. An audit formally showed that as of December, 1993, only about 49.01% of the project had been accomplished, and yet the project outlay of P165 million had been exhausted. Where had about 50% of the appropriation gone?

4. On June 22, 2006-about two years from the filing of the complaint-Graft Investigator and Prosecution Officer Sarah Jo Vergara penned a resolution recommending the dismissal of the instant case for lack of substantial merit.

5. Years earlier, the office of the Ombudsman, found prima facie case against respondents. What happened in the interim which led to the lack of substantial legal basis finding on June 22, 2006.

6. The resumption of the works on the questioned project was made possible through fresh funding as the project cost in the sum of P165 million had been exhausted with no Small Reservoir Impounding Project (SRIP) being born: Why the lack of substantial basis?

7. Complainants' suspicion says that the questioned project, mysterious in itself, was shrouded with mysteries from the finding of prima facie case until the resolution of dismissal for lack of substantial legal basis.

Governor Graft and Corruption Case Dismissed

The Ombudsman has dismissed criminal and administrative cases for graft and corruption against Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado and three others filed by a lawyer in 2003 for alleged purchase of goats at too high a price.

In a nine-page-resolution, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I Cynthia Maturan-Sibi of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas dismissed the criminal aspect of the case on June 30, 2006 for lack of merit.

In a 10-page decision, she also dismissed the administrative aspect of the case on the same date, similarly for lack of merit.

Both were reviewed by Director Edgardo Canton, recommended for approval by OIC Ombudsman-Visayas Virginia Palanca-Santiago and approved by Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro on June 26, 2008.

Aside from Aumentado, named as respondents were then Officer-in-Charge Arnulfo Apalisok of the Bohol Poverty Reduction Management Office (BPRMO), lawyer Antonio Amora, then provincial administrator and Engr. Edwin Vallejos, provincial general services officer.

The case stemmed from the provincial government's purchase of 480 heads of does worth P720,000 or P1,500 each and P120 heads of bucks for P540,000 or P4,500 each. BPRMO had bought the hybrid goats to provide alternate livelihood project as support to beneficiaries in 40 barangays to augment their income.           

Lawyer Artemio Cabatos, human rights advocate and chair of the Boholanos Against Corruption, Oppression and Social Harassment (Bacos) filed the case. He presented documents showing that Nutrimart Enterprise submitted a quotation, tendered a bid and eventually won as evidenced by Purchase Order No. 169 signed by Vallejos and Amora as Aumentado's representative.

Apalisok signed the inspection and acceptance report, noted by Vallejos. Again Apalisok and Amora representing the governor signed the disbursement voucher while Nutrimart Enterprises issued an invoice reflecting the amount of P1.26 million.

Makati Mayor Binay Frowns Bangsamoro

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay described as "bad precedent" the scuttled Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (JBE) agreement between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that would eventually expand the territory of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) apparently in exchange for an end of insurgency.

Binay, who was touted to throw his hat in the top position of the country, made his presence felt in the province for three days of roaming around and meeting local officials and his brothers in the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity.

A Boholano couple (names withheld) who are in Iligan City where they based their business also expressed fears that the city might end up shrank in its territorial scope because some of its barangays are included in the proposed JBE. They said that the people of Iligan were caught flat footed since there was no consultation made by the JBE proponents. The same concern being felt in the southern parts of Mindanao.

The scheduled signing of the JBE Memorandum of Agreement last week was spoiled after the Supreme Court issued a restraining order against the signing. SC was acting on a petition filed by North Cotabato Vice-Gov. Emmanuel Piñol.

Binay minced no words that JBE is an apparent attempt to carve out a "state within a state" during the press conference at Miravilla Resort in this city just about two hours prior to his flight back to Makati last Friday.

He said that the proponents of the JBE did not even bother to consult the people affected in areas where MILF by way of the JBE is to govern.

He said that JBE would eventually have their own security force and even can have power in foreign affairs.

He cited Iligan City as one of the areas affected that its officials are up in arms against the proposed creation of JBE.

Binay met with provincial officials and paid a courtesy call to Vice-Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera and was the guest of the meeting of the Bohol chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He signed a sisterhood venture between Makati city and Loay town represented by Mayor Rosemarie Imboy and had river sruising in Loboc where he was welcomed by Mayor Leon Calipusan.

He also went to as far as Garcia-Hernandez to visit the Basic Training of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and Getafe town in the north and Danao town led by Mayor Louie Thomas Gonzaga for another two sisterhood signings between Makati and Getafe and Danao.

Camiguin Island Officials Visit Jagna Town

Members of the 6th Sangguniang Bayan of Jagna headed by Vice Mayor Teofisto C. Pagar, Sr (encircled left) together with the LGU Department Heads meet at the Jagna port the distinguished visitors of the day from the neighboring paradise island of the Province of Camiguin, the LGU-Mambajao counterparts headed by their Vice Mayor, Hon. James Ederango (encircled right).

The LGU-Mambajao local officials and department heads after an exchange of pleasantries and lunch, listened to the power point presentation of Jagna's best practice on Solid Waste Management Program conducted by ISWM-TWG Head Councilor Senen Lloren at the Justice Bernardo Ll. Salas Session Hall. The group likewise made an onsite visit to the composting facilities.

Bohol Food and Technology

Bohol has now an Integrated Technology, Systems and Support Amenities for Food Enterprises (It's Safe) center to provide a wide range of services to make Boholano products and their packaging safer, better and globally competitive.

Gov. Erico Aumentado and 1st Counselor Sam Zappia of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) led recent inauguration rites for the IT's Center at the NIA Compound in Dao, Tagbilaran City aims

In his message, Aumentado thanked the Australian government – now the top Official Development Assistance (ODA) funder of Bohol – for the latest assistance geared towards poverty reduction.

National Economic and Development Authority-National Statistics Coordination Board (NEDA-NSCB) records show that Bohol is safely out of Club 20, the country's 20 poorest provinces when Aumentado first assumed office as governor in 2001, now occupying 52nd place out of 80 provinces.

The governor is not resting on his laurels though.

He said he sees the new berth as a challenge and deeper motivator to do even more as he steers Bohol to be "10 in 2010" – a province that shall have accomplished 10 targets all-encompassing targets designed to reduce poverty among the Boholanos in 2010.

"Building alliances – as with ODA, local governments, the national government, the business community, people's organizations and non-government organizations, among others – has made possible the realization of the dream of putting up the It's Safe Center," he said.

Among others, the province spent for the renovation of the building housing the center.

For his part, David Swete Kelly, program director of the Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (Pacap), the center's principal funder said it was good to help realize a project that was identified by the people themselves as their need in order to better their lives. Pacap contributed around P15 million largely to buy equipment for food testing, processing and packaging for the center.

Meanwhile, Tagbilaran City Mayor Dan Lim said he did not hesitate to join the bandwagon on knowing that the governor already gave his full support to the project. The city government put in P1 million, he said.