WB CONDUCTS REVIEW ON DA’S RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS


A team from the World Bank (WB) will visit several sub-projects implemented under the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) to assess the progress of the Project and address issues and concerns in implementation.

As of August 14, 2015 the Project has already allotted over P12 billion (B) in funds for the implementation of various sub-projects which include farm-to-market roads, bridges, potable water system and production, processing, and marketing support activities envisioned to boost the value chain of agricultural commodities in the rural areas.

Of the amount P10.96-B has been approved for infrastructure projects funding under the Infrastructure Development (I-BUILD) component, while P1.62-B is allocated for production, processing, and marketing activities of agri-fishery products under the Enterprise Development (I-REAP) component.

A total of 10 infrastructure projects worth P297.61-M are now ongoing-implementation and are over 50% complete, while 33 other infrastructure projects worth P2.02-B are below 50% in progress. Sixteen sub-projects worth P616.85 million (M) have been approved for implementation, through the issuance of No-Objection Letter 2 (NOL-2) and 124 sub-projects amounting to P8-B have been approved for funding and have been given NOL-1.

Under the I-REAP component, 10 sub-projects worth P78.65-M have been approved for funding. Among these is the calamansi marketing and trading project of the Naujan Farmers’ Association in Oriental Mindoro which recently received P700, 000.00 worth of cheque from the PRDP. Last June, the PRDP also transferred P20-M worth of checks to the Polo Samahang Nayon Cooperative to jumpstart their cassava granules production and marketing project.

As PRDP moves to boost the economy in the rural areas through financial grants to rural development projects, it continues to capacitate the LGUs in planning and implementing sub-projects.

“Together with local governments, the academe, the business sector and other grassroots stakeholders, we have endeavored to develop the right tools to determine the right investments for the development of commodities produced by our farmers and fishers,” explained DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala.

The PRDP has also introduced modern tools to help identify, validate, and monitor sub-projects under the Project.

“We have instituted reforms in planning among local government units using scientific and evidence-based tools that ensure development initiatives on agriculture are responsive to the needs of specific localities. Through these reforms, we contribute to the eradication of patronage politics that perpetuates corruption and hampers delivery of services to areas where these are needed most,” added Alcala.

The Expanded-Vulnerability and Suitability Assessment (E-VSA) Tool for instance, a user online tool takes account of socio economic indicators to help target interventions under the Project.

The Applied Goetagging (AGT) on the other hand is used to validate and monitor progress of sub-projects under the PRDP. Through the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology in smartphones, photographs of proposed and implemented sub-projects can be laid out in Google Earth and be viewed online.

With AGT identifying the exact location of projects, ghost and overlapping projects will be avoided.

“Certainly, the PRDP has become an avenue to foster participation, an indispensable element of good governance that this administration promotes.

Through the PRDP, we have been able to further mainstream our good governance agenda,” said Alcala.

The DA-PRDP has also strengthened the protection of beneficiaries and people affected by project implementation through the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM).

Through the GRM, the Project is ready to accept and address, grievances, complaints, and suggestions of the public in relation to the better implementation of the sub-projects.

Prior to the visit of the WB officials to PRDP sub-projects, a kick-off meeting will be held on August 24, 2015 (today) at the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management Convention Hall in Quezon City. The team from the WB will be led by its Task Team Leader for PRDP Mr. Samik Sundar Das.

Officials from WB and DA-PRDP will visit projects in Palawan for South Luzon cluster, Isabela for North Luzon cluster, Misamis Occidental and Lanao Del Norte for Mindanao cluster, and Bohol for Visayas cluster. (PRDP Info Ace)

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

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PHP17M PROJECTS IN SO. LEYTE FARMERS


The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has recently turned over Php 17.8 million rural development projects in Barangay Katipunan, Silago, Southern Leyte.

Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong said the projects include an irrigation system that can supply water to about 50 hectares of farmlands, post-harvest facilities consisting of a 72-sq.m. warehouse and a 360-sq.m. solar dryer, and a potable water system.

Bistoyong said three more projects, all farm-to-market roads, are currently being constructed, too, in this area.

She disclosed that all the projects including institutional development and agribusiness development are part of the Php74 million support package jointly funded by the DAR and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP) now in its third phase, and the local government unit (LGU).

All these are intended for this area only, she added.

Regional Director Sheila Enciso said the town of Silago is so fortunate because Barangay Hingatunggan, another ARC area, was provided with the same package of support projects under ARISP-III.

Present during the occasion was Yoshiyuki Ueno of JICA, who commended DAR for taking the lead in this endeavor that seeks to spur growth in the countryside.

Ueno said DAR’s ARISP which started implementation in 1995 has become an effective tool towards agricultural development by constructing basic rural infrastructure to increase crop productivity and augment farmer’s income.

He likewise acknowledged the continuous effort and utmost support of partner agencies such as the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the LGUs.

Meanwhile, Mayor Pacita Almine expressed her appreciation to the DAR officials for always including their town in its list of recipients for programs and projects intended for the rural folks.

Diosdado Salazar, a farmer and a barangay official, said that the projects are of great help to them. With irrigation in their area now, they expect their harvest to increase. On the other hand, the potable water system would benefit 120 households, which used to hike three kilometers just to fetch drinking water from a spring in Barangay Imelda. (JOSE ALSMITH L. SORIA)

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

SSS INKS PACT WITH LUXEMBOURG FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PROTECTION


The Social Security System (SSS) officials led by President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr. visited the cities of Moscow, Rome, Milan, Luxembourg and Paris from May 9 to 19, 2015 as part of its coverage drive to reach out to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and meet with the Filipino Communities in Europe to brief them on the importance of various SSS programs and services.

First photo above shows President de Quiros (2nd from left) with Philippine Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg Victoria S. Bataclan (3rd from left) together with Minister Romain Schneider after the two parties signed the Philippines-Luxembourg Social Security Agreement (SSA). SSS Senior Vice President for Accounts Management Group and Concurrent Head for International Operations Division Judy Frances A. See (left) and Inspection Generale de la Securite Sociale Head Claude Ewen (right) witnessed the event.

The Social Security Agreement includes the equality of Filipino nationals in contributions of social security benefits in Luxembourg and export the same benefits if they plan to return in the Philippines. Worldwide, there are about 400,000 OFWs and migrants who are SSS members and a considerable percentage of this number is from the European countries.

SSS has also set-up an Information Desk to provide various services such as on-line inquiry/ verification, registration, data amendments, claim applications and Annual Confirmation of Pensioners (ACOP) requests. Third photo shows Head of SSS Foreign Branch Expansion & Monitoring Department Atty. Sylvette C. Sybico (middle) supervising the SSS team in extending assistance and answering member’s queries from OFWs in Moscow.

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

NAIA-IADITG COLLABORATION INTERCEPTS P10M WORTHOF HEROIN IN SHOES


Two pairs of branded shoes containing heroin, with an estimated value of P10,000,000, was intercepted by elements of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADITG) on August 17, 2015 in NAIA Terminal 1, Pasay City.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Undersecretary Arturo G. Cacdac, Jr. and NAIA-IADITG Task Group Commander said that the illegal drug, which weighed two kilograms and wrapped in a carbon paper and overlap with package tape, was methodically concealed inside the cushion pads of two pairs of black and brown leather shoes as unclaimed items in the Lost and Found Section of NAIA Terminal 1 warehouse, at around 9:30 in the morning.

Joint elements of NAIA-IADITG proceeded to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Intelligence and Investigation Division (IID)/ID and Pass Control Division and conducted inspection, inventory and field testing of the seized powdered-like substance suspected to be dangerous drugs. Subsequently, a representative sample was brought immediately to the PDEA Laboratory Service for confirmatory examination that yielded positive results for heroin.

The inter-agency task group is presently undergoing an investigation to determine the owner of the shoes containing heroin and how they found their way in the NAIA Terminal 1 warehouse.

NAIA-IADITG is an inter-agency collaboration headed by PDEA whose members include the MIAA, Office for Transportation Security (OTS), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Justice-National Prosecution Service (DOJ-NPS), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP-AIDSOTF), Bureau of Immigration (BI), and the PNP Aviation Security Group (ASG). Mr. Glenn J. Malapad

IMG_0764 IMG_0775

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

CONSTRUCTION AND INDUSTRY AUTHORITY OF THE PHILIPPINES (CIAP) HOLDS SEMINAR ON WTO-GATS


According to WTO, one tenth of the world’s GDP and seven percent of employment are accounted to the construction industry.

With PH’s foreseen growth in this sector contributing to the GDP growth of the country, the Construction and Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP) conducted a one-day seminar on World Trade Organization-General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO-GATS) and its Impact on the Construction Industry held last August 10, 2015 at Berjaya Hotel, Makati City.

The capacity building seminar primarily aims to have a comprehensive understanding on the importance of ‘trade in services’, GATS scheduling and commitments and other regional trade agreements and WTO negotiations among others; and to enable the participants—CIAP employees and POCB registered contractors—to address insights and queries on the topic at hand.

“This informative session is one way for us to have at least a basic and updated  knowledge when it comes to GATS, especially now that we have to mount our construction industry at the phase of globalization,” said DTI’s CIAP Supervising Undersecretary Prudencio M. Reyes Jr.

“Understanding GATS particularly its ‘non-discriminatory principle’ is of high relevance to our stakeholders primarily that it supports impartiality among member-states paving to international trade regulation and foreign direct investment protection,” he added.

Further, Lead Component 1 on Trade of USAID-Trade Related Assistance for Development (TRADE) Project, Ms. Glenda Reyes emphasized during her lecture that market liberalization through various trade related services and involvement in international trade agreement will incur gains for PH.

“If we want to be globally competitive, one of the platforms is to improve the conditions within the country at the same time strengthen our international participation through various free trade agreements,” she added.

GATS  is an agreement under the WTO which serves as a guideline in directing multilateral trade in various services to establish a reliable system of international trade rules and upholding non-discriminatory principles among the member-states.

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

DENR OFFERS REWARD FOR PAMANA’S KILLER


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is offering a reward of P100, 000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Philippine eagle “Pamana,” Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje announced on Thursday.

Paje said the entire DENR community was distraught over the killing of yet another Philippine eagle, which he described as a setback to government efforts to protect the critically endangered raptor.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Pamana. Those responsible for this barbaric act must be arrested and punished for committing this environmental crime,” Paje said.

The environment chief, however, said that Pamana’s death will not prevent the government – through the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) – to pursue its captive breeding program to boost the population of the majestic Philippine national bird.

Pamana, a three-year-old female Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), was found dead by PEF biologists and forest guards at the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) in Davao Oriental last Sunday. A puncture and metal fragment on her right breast indicated she had died of a gunshot wound.

Paje condemned the killing even as he called on law enforcement units in the province to assist regional environment officials in hunting down the perpetrators.

He said the DENR regional office, the Protected Area Management Board of MHRWS and the PEF are now conducting a full investigation on the incident.

“We are distressed that, despite intensified awareness campaigns by various stakeholders,  some people still have a blatant disregard for our natural heritage, which, sadly, is what Pamana’s name means,” he lamented.

He also urged local residents to help authorities track down the killers.

The Philippine eagle, Paje said, is protected under Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. As such, anyone found guilty of killing wildlife species can be imprisoned from six to 12 years, with a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.

Moreover, illegal hunting within the MHWRS, which is a protected area, is also punishable by a jail term of six years and a fine of up to P500,000.

Pamana was released within the MHRWS only on June 12. Ironically, she was rehabilitated by the PEF after DENR personnel had rescued her from a gunshot wound three years ago.

In her necropsy report, PEF’s veterinarian Dr. Ana Lascano reported the bird was already in “advanced state of decomposition” when its carcass was found around one kilometer away from the release site in San Isidro, Davao Oriental.

The estimated date of death was on August 10, when field workers observed that a transmitter attached to her back had stopped sending radio signals.

It was not the first time a Philippine eagle was shot dead. On August 14, 2004, a decomposing body of a female Philippine eagle was found in Mt. Apo in Davao City.

The raptor, which was among those monitored by the DENR and PEF for years, bore a gunshot wound, a crack at its keel bone.

The Philippine eagle, hailed the “world’s noblest flier” by former aviator Charles Lindbergh, is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

There are an estimated 400 pairs remaining in the wild today.

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

SUGARCANE BLOCK FARMING IS BEING PURSUED IN CAGAYAN


The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has recently signed a memorandum of agreement with Department of Agriculture (DA) and Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for the establishment of sugar block farms in the agrarian reform communities (ARC) in sugarcane producing areas.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Virgilio M. Acasili said the sugarcane block farming project will be implemented in three identified areas within the municipalities of Tuao, Piat and Solana, Cagayan.

Acasili said the sugarcane block farming project is an intensified consolidation of awarded lands to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) with three (3) hectares or less to be integrated into 30-50 hectares through different schemes such as partnership, joint venture and sharing while preserving indivisual ownership.

He said that the program aims to make local sugar production cost efficient and profitable by increasing yield per hectare.

Prior to the MOA signing, a series of consultative meetings and assessments were conducted between DAR, DA and SRA.

The Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs)/Sugarcane planters of Pinoy Bagong Pag-asa Cooperative of Tuao, Villarey Agri-Producers Cooperative of Piat and Bantay Farmers Producers Cooperative of Solana also participated in the meetings.

The assessments would be used as basis for drafting their Organizational Enterprise – Needs and Design Assessment (OE-NADA) to facilitate the delivery of support services to sugarcane farmers.

Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping was also done in the area in partnership with SRA for land preparation, planting, fertilization and harvesting.

Part of the initial activities is to prepare the area for soil sampling and eventually soil conditioning to determine and mark the planting of sugarcane.

“We are doing everything for sugar cane farmers to be equipped and acquire necessary learnings and skills to be applied in their respective agrarian reform areas,” Acasili added.(marvitbulan)

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy