Personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)
participated in a metro-wide earthquake drill on July 30, 2015. The
drill is a disaster-preparedness plan in the event of a strong tremor
caused by the Valley Fault System, an active fault that traverses the
greater Metro Manila area.

PDEA Director General Undersecretary Arturo G. Cacdac,
Jr., who led the PDEA personnel during the in-house earthquake
simulation, said that the drill, which is spearheaded by the
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), was participated in
by local government units, government agencies, schools, churches and
other establishments situated within Metro Manila.

“In May 2015, the PDEA Intelligence and Investigation
Service (IIS) under Director Randy Pedroso conducted a two-day seminar
on disaster preparedness to pre-selected PDEA personnel which composed
the PDEA Emergency Response Team (ERT). The training program was
conducted to equip them with knowledge and capability to address
various emergency situations,” Cacdac said.

The sequence of the PDEA Earthquake Drill scenario was
done as follows:

a.    Once the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology
(PHIVOLCS) has announced through radio or television that there is a
magnitude 7.2 earthquake, the PDEA has commenced the drill;

b.    Simultaneous to the PHIVOLCS’ announcement, PDEA-IIS sounded the
two bullhorns (one each for the PDEA main building and annex building)
for one minute to represent the “ground-shaking”. Members of the PDEA
ERT ordered their colleagues to carry out the “DROP, COVER, HOLD”
maneuver during the duration of the alarm;

c.    Members of the PDEA Evacuation Team and PDEA ERT ushered the
PDEA personnel and visitors to the evacuation area, which is at the
Visitor’s Parking area just across PDEA National Headquarters in
Quezon City;

d.    The PDEA ERT of each PDEA Service/Office coordinated with their
corresponding Administrative Head to prepare the attendance sheet of
accounted personnel;

e.    The Evacuation Team leader of each floor of PDEA buildings
reported to the Floor Supervisor that every personnel has been
properly accounted for; and

f.    The PDEA Emergency Medical First Response Team convened at the
evacuation area to check on PDEA personnel suffering from dizziness,
minor injuries, etc.

“No one can precisely predict when and where an earthquake
will happen. But through the drill, we help reduce the risk of injury
and loss of lives when a major earthquake strikes,” Cacdac added.

The Valley Fault System is an active fault system in the
Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA) composed of two fault segments: the
10 km long East Valley Fault (EVF) in Rizal and the 100 km long West
Valley Fault (WVF) that runs through different cities and towns of
Bulacan, Rizal, Metro Manila, Cavite and Laguna. The West Valley Fault
can generate a large-scale tremor with a 7.2 magnitude which poses
threat to people’s lives, buildings and infrastructures, and
livelihood.(Mr. Glenn J. Malapad, OIC, Public Information Office, PDEA)

Posted By: Edrillan Pasion


DA supports study for rapid, cost effective detection of Salmonella in meat products

The Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Program has thrown its full support for a University of the Philippines Diliman study for fast and cost-effective methods of detecting Salmonella in raw meat and meat products by looking at the genetic blueprints of the organism and analyzing the mechanism for its transmission and proliferation to help ensure safer meat and meat products for consumers and improve further the growth of the agricultural and livestock industry in the country.

According to the DA Biotech Program, the study aims to create a protocol for the molecular detection of Salmonella to allow rapid detection of the organism and its sources to further characterize the organism, control outbreaks and identify exactly what the mechanisms of transmission are.

The DA Biotech Program added, the researchers said this is all made possible with a biotechnological method called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), which has been found to be highly sensitive, very specific, fast and reproducible.

Dr. Windell Rivera, Professor of Microbiology at the Institute of Biology at the University of the Philippines Diliman is the research project leader.

The study further aims to find the prevalence of Salmonella species in slaughtered swine and other livestock and poultry—both in raw meat and meat products—in wet markets in Metro Manila.

A certain group of bacteria causes approximately 90% of all food-borne illnesses in the world. Within the group, Salmonella is one of the most frequently reported and recognized cause of gastroenteritis and enteric fever, collectively known as food poisoning.

Studies have revealed that swine, poultry and cattle are very common carriers of this virulent microbe.

Hog livestock is the largest meat and livestock industry in the Philippines, having over two million metric tons of production in 2014 as recorded by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The industry is constantly challenged by various microbial diseases. Salmonellosis is one of the dreaded diseases that cause huge monetary losses because of morbidity-linked reduction in productivity and increased costs for disease treatment.

The challenge of Salmonella is exacerbated by the difficulty in detecting this pathogen. Standard culture methods are inadequate since the number of bacterial cells shed from the animals is very low and well below the tests’ detection threshold.

The International Standardization Organization subsequently created a method to detect Salmonella by first enriching the sample in liquid culture to make it more adequate for the tests, but this takes five days to complete.

The UP Diliman research team will also classify the Salmonella species according to what antigens they have.

Antigens are proteins on the surface of microorganisms that are used by the host to identify a foreign microbe for purposes of defense and immunity.

Classification of the species is significant to determine the subsequent appropriate prevention, control, and treatment methods.

This has the ability to tell epidemiologists, public health stakeholders, and policy-makers which types/groups of the species to focus on and prepare for.

The research team is also looking into the possible emergence of strains that are resistant to antibiotics, particularly ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacin, used to treat bacterial infections in humans.

The DA Biotech Program added, the research team said better detection and better epidemiological data would mean better control strategies and better policies. Current policies can be evaluated, adjust accordingly.(DA-Biotech Program)


Posted By: Edrillan Pasion

NTA doubles scholarship slots for college students

The National Tobacco Administration has doubled the number of scholarships for deserving and qualified dependents of tobacco-growing farmers under its Tobacco-Free Education Program (TFEP).

NTA Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza said 284 scholarships were available for incoming college freshmen of school year 2015-2016, or nearly twice last year’s 138 grants.

NTA TFEP is embodied in Republic Act No. 9211 or Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003. The program covers both four-year degree courses and technical or vocational courses.

The agency gives preferences to those who will enrol in an agriculture-related field of study.

“This is to benefit more stu­dents, giving priority to those who would be enrolling in courses pertaining to agriculture, in consonance with the program of government to encourage farm­ers’ children to help sustain agricul­ture in the country,” Zaragoza said.

Of the total scholars for the past two school years, 38% were enrolled in agriculture and related courses.

Since its initial implementation in SY 2011-2012, a total of 739 chil­dren of tobacco farmers have been supported under the TFEP grants, of which 104 have finished their degree and non-degree courses as of June 2015.

The slots are distributed among its eight provincial branches, with NTA Candon (Ilocos Sur 2nd District) having the biggest allocation at 70 slots.  Occidental Mindoro field office, which was only given 2 slots for the first time last school year, was given 18 more slots or a total of 20 in this year’s reallocation.

Zaragoza said that the original program provided only for tuition. “A reasonable monthly allowance to the scholars was also provided to ensure that they have a source for transportation and miscellaneous expenses,” he added.

Dr. Cristina C. Lopez, TFEP scholarship committee chairperson, said 23 slots are still available as of date for deserving and qualified children of tobacco farmers.

Interested applicants, she added, may submit their documents for evaluation at the NTA branch office in their respective provinces.  (Neyo Valdez, DA-NTA)

Posted By: Edrillan Pasion


Former Department of Education Undersecretary Antonio 'Butch' A.S. Valdes after session of the Saturday Class at his residence, with him are AB Communication students from ICCT Colleges Foundation.
Former Department of Education Undersecretary Antonio ‘Butch’ A.S. Valdes after session of the Saturday Class at his residence, with him are AB Communication students from ICCT Colleges Foundation.

Isang matinding paninidigan at pagnanais na makapagbahagi ng kanyang kaalaman, Iyan ang ilan sa mga karakter na aking napansin nang makaharap ko si former Undersecretary Antonio “Butch” Valdes sa isang lecture sa kanyang tahanan nitong nakaraang Sabado (Aug. 1, 2015) .

Sa lecture na ito ay ipinaliwanag niya sa amin ang kahulugan ng mga ‘kaliwete’ o lefties kung tawagin sa lipunan sinabi niya na ang mga ito ay mayroong dalawang klase ng ideolohiya, ang Communism at Free Market.

Ang communism ay may kagustuhan na maging pantay-pantay ang bawat mamamayan,Sa madaling salita walang mahirap o mayaman, Layunin ng mga ito na kunin ang pagmamay-ari ng mga nakatataas sa lipunan at ibahagi sa mahihirap.

Paniniwala pa ng mga ito na natural lang sa ating mga tao ang lalong ilugmok sa hirap ang mga mahihina, katulad na lamang ng mga hayop nabubuhay tayo sa patakaran kung saan ang malalakas ay palaging nadadaig ang mahihina.

Samantalang ang free market naman na nanggaling kay Adam Smith ay patungkol sa ekonomiya kung saan ang malalakas na negosyo ay lalamunin ang maliliit at nagsisimula pa lang.

Ayon pa sa kanya na ang dalawang ideolohiya na ito ay parehong mali at nakasasama sa ating lipunan. Bagamat, magkaiba man ang tawag sa dalawang ito ay nagkakapareho ito sa napakaraming bagay.

“The stronger will always overpower the weak and the rich will always exploit the poor.” 

Iyan ang mga katagang sinabi ni Sir Butch na isa sa mga tumatak sa aking isipan at pati na marahil sa aking mga kasamahan. Sinabi pa niya na ang ganitong pundasyon ng pag-iisip ay mali sapagkat walang problemang maayos kung paiiralin natin ang ating pagnanais na makalamang sa iba.

Dagdag pa ni Sir Butch na imbes na ang dalawang ideolohiya na ito ang pairalin ay mas makabubuti kung gumamit tayo ng tamang pamamaraan, katulad na lamang ng pag intindi ng totoong kalikasan ng tao, madalas kasi ay hindi natin alam ang tunay na kapasidad ng ating kakayahan bilang isang indibidwal at mahalaga raw kung tayo ay hihingi ng tulong sa iba na siyang makapagpapakita sa atin ng tunay nating potensyal.

Isa pa ring makatutulong ng higit ay kung lahat tayo ay magkaroon ng pagnanais na makapagbigay tulong sa ating kapwa.

Sa pagpapatuloy ng usapan ay naikuwento rin niya ang pag-imbita sa kanya ng isang grupo kung saan nagkakaroon ang mga ito ng hindi pagkakasundo sa usapang China at Amerika, sinasabing ang isa raw ay Anti- China at ang isa ay Anti-America.

Pinakamainit na diskusyon  rito ay ang usapin ng Spratly Island na hanggang ngayon ay pinag- aagawan pa rin ng Pilipinas at Tsina,

Ang isa pa sa lumalabas na problema sa pagitan ng mga Anti-China at Anti- America ay ang usapin kung bakit ang  China na hindi pa nakakalapit ng husto sa bansa ang pilit binibgyan ng pansin at kinatatakutan samantalang ang Amerika raw ay matagal nang nasa ating teritoryo.

Sa nangyaring diskusyon ay naitanong kung bakit hindi pumapayag ang ating bansa sa mungkahi ng Tsina na magkaroon ng ‘bilateral talk’ sa pagitan nila at ng Pilipinas upang mapag-usapan ang problemang kinakaharap ng dalawang bansa ngunit tumanggi rito ang Pilipinas sapagkat mas nanaisin daw nila ang dalhin sa korte ang agawang nagaganap.

Iminungkahi rin ni Sir Butch ang Treaty of Westphalia na nakatulong upang magkaroon ng katapusan ang tatlumpung taong digmaang nagaganap noon sa mga bansang France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain at Sweden, kung saan nagpulong ang mga ito upang magkaroon ng solusyon ang nagaganap na digmaan at di kalaunan ay maging dahilan upang magsimula ang scientific at conjugal economic development ng buong Europa.

Nagpahayag rin ng matinding opinyon si Sir Butch nang tinanong niya kung bakit kailangan pang magkaroon ng labanan gayung mayroon tayong pagkakataon upang maresolba ang issue at magkaroon ng parehong kapayapaan para sa dalawang bansa.

Isang mahabang diskusyon na punong-puno ng aral at impormasyon ang ibinahagi sa amin ni Sir Butch Valdes noong Sabado sa kanyang tahanan na talaga namang nagbukas sa aming isipan patungkol sa mga bagay na pawang kaylan lang ay isang palaisipan para sa amin.

At sa pagtatapos nga ng usapang iyon ay isang payo ang binitiwan sa amin ng dating Undersecretary ng Department of Education patungkol sa aming tinatahak na landas sa malawak na mundo ng jornalismo, ito ay ang pagiging dedikado sa aming trabaho at ang pagiging tapat hindi lang sa sarili kungdi pati na rin sa aming sinumpaang tungkulin na ilabas ang katotohanan sa kabila ng mga temptasyon at balakid, para sa ikabubuti ng ating sambayanan. 




Dispatches: President Aquino’s Shameful Silence on Human Rights

Moments after Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III finished his final State of the Nation Address today before Congress, a group of left-wing legislators in the audienceunfurled a protest banner that read: “human rights violator.”
However one feels about Aquino’s personal responsibility for ongoing human rights violations in the Philippines, it’s hard to deny their existence. That’s why Aquino’s miserable failure to even discuss the Philippines’ many pressing human rights problems in his speech is so troubling.
Instead, Aquino spoke for more than two hours on such issues as his administration’s accomplishments on the economyeducation, and the peace process in Mindanao. Aquino drew applause for promising a bill outlawingpolitical dynasties. He also recounted in detail the many shortcomings of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and thanked everyone from his political allies to his housemaid and hairdresser.
But, perhaps unsurprisingly, Aquino barely touched on any of the serious human rights problems his administration has largely ignored since he took office in 2010. That omission adds insult to injury to the manyvictims of the government’s failure to adequately grapple with those issues. The closest he came to acknowledging human rights was his mention of the arrest of retired Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is on trial for the enforced disappearance of two activists.
More Filipinos will likely pay a heavy price for the failure to press for greater accountability for alleged abuses by the state security forces. The cost of that failure will be a rising body count from extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, and torture.
Aquino won the 2010 election on a political platform that included explicit human rights commitments and a promise to tackle the lack of accountability for the military and police. But unless Aquino finds his voice on human rights as he begins his last year in office ahead of the next presidential election in May 2016, those promises may remain empty rhetoric. (Carlos H. Conde,Philippines Researcher,Human Rights Watch)
Posted by: Freda Migano


A suspected lady pusher and two listed drug personalities
were arrested by combined anti-narcotics agents of the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police during
simultaneous implementation of search warrants in Puerto Princesa
City, Palawan on July 30, 2015.

PDEA Director General Undersecretary Arturo G. Cacdac, Jr.
identified the suspects as Cristy Kilem y Moncatar, alias Lovely
Lagrada, 27 years old, single; Marlito Benasa y Orbita, alias Dodong,
49, both residents of Typoco Village, San Manuel, Puerto Princesa
City, Palawan; and Roberto Ordoñez Jr. y Morta, alias Onyok, 34, and a
resident of Abrena Compound, River Road, San Manuel, Puerto Princesa
City, Palawan.

At around 6:00 in the morning, combined operatives of PDEA Regional
Office 4B (PDEA RO4B) under the direct supervision of Director Archie
A. Grande implemented a search warrant issued by Hon. Angelo R.
Arizala, Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 52 in
Puerto Princesa City, at Typoco Village and Abrena Compound, San
Manuel, Puerto Princesa City, which led to the arrest of Kilem, Benasa
and Ordoñez.

Confiscated from Kilem were five pieces of small
heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing white crystalline
substance suspected to be shabu weighing 60.1758 grams with an
estimated value of P240, 703.00, one pencil case containing assorted
drug paraphernalia and one black digital weighing scale. Benasa
yielded 10 pieces of small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets of
suspected shabu weighing nine grams, one silver coin purse, one match
box containing three aluminum foils. Ordoñez yielded five pieces of
small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets of shabu weighing
55.0598 grams with an estimated value of P220,239.00, and assorted
drug paraphernalia.

Kilem, Benasa and Ordoñez will be charged for violation of
Section 11 (Possession of Dangerous Drugs), and Section 12 (Possession
of Equipment and Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs), Article II
of RA 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. (Mr. Glenn J. Malapad, OIC, Public Information Office, PDEA

Posted By: Edrillan Pasion


The Department of Agriculture said it is proud of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) achievements, foremost of which is the swift removal of the yellow card imposed on the Philippines by the European Union, proof of our fast action in accordance with international regulations against Illegal, Unreported Unregulated Fishing or IUUF.

Even President Benigno Aquino III, in his sixth and last State of the Nation Address, specifically lauded the BFAR for the swift reaction to the yellow card warning which, if not corrected, could have escalated to a trade sanction banning the Philippines from exporting fisheries products to the European Union, one of its biggest markets.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said, the BFAR is also spearheading the drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Fisheries Code as Amended by Republic Act 10654.

“We are hoping that by September the IRR will be complete so that we could effectively implement the law against IUUF,” Alcala said.

The Secretary added, to strengthen the country’s fishery law enforcement, BFAR has thoroughly trained fishery law enforcers.

From four fishery law enforcers for the entire country in 2010, the Philippines now has 188 who have undergone a training course conducted by Philippine National Police and Philippine Military Academy personnel and community organizers.

“Three of those who were trained were among those who accosted poachers in Batanes in May,” Alcala said.

More than 1.5 million fisherfolk have already been registered in the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR), which is now being crossmatched with the National Household Targeting System-Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Fisherfolk listed on both registries will be automatically qualified for Philhealth coverage.

The fisherfolk database has also been crossmatched with the Department of Budget and Management’s Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA). Fisherfolk whose names appear on both lists will be able to avail of free full insurance bundle by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC).

The Targeted Actions to Reduce Poverty and Generate Economic Transformation (TARGET) in the Fishery Sector that aims to reduce poverty incidence in the sector by 4% is also being implemented.

To support the post-harvest requirement of sustenance farmers, government has established 13 municipal fish ports, ice plants and cold storage for 25,323 fisherfolk from 2011 to 2014.

At present, there are 50 municipal fishports, ice plants and cold storage facilities in various stages of development.

“Let us look for ways to further enrich and protect our fisheries and marines resources,” Alcala said.

He, added, there is a need to review the current Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan or CNFIDP to determine if it still meets present challenges. (DA-OSEC)

Posted by: Lynne Pingoy