Friday, January 7, 2011

Steps to balance fish 
supply-demand, on 

GOVERNOR Edgar Chatto has encouraged local government units to create their own municipal price coordinating councils in efforts to involve local stakeholders in addressing the high price of fish and other basic commodities. 

During the Consultative Forum called by Capitol to engage national government agencies, local government unit heads, provincial legislators and stakeholders in crafting winning solutions for Bohol’s problems, the governor said steps to balance the fish supply and demand is ongoing. 

This as he also apprised head of agencies in Bohol about what has been done to address the soaring price of fish which affects most of Tagbilaran and nearby towns. 

“Despite clear indications that the coming of the cold season dents on fish harvest, the problem of fish production scarcity is complicated by lesser commercial fishing boats landing their catch in Bohol,” said Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources head Cresencio Pahamutang lately. 

The government has also noted that the scarcity of inputs and help that marginal fishermen are getting push them to get to borrowing from outside sources, which are paid in the forms of fish harvest, further depleting resources that could have otherwise help fill the demand gap, Chatto admitted at the forum. 

Not really lying down in utter surrender for the apparent government helplessness at controlling the price, Chatto said Capitol and stakeholders have taken steps to address the issue. 

On matters where the steps need both the action of national, provincial and municipal leaders, he said he has issued Executive Order 29 creating the PCCC whose tasks cover monitoring of all goods and services including their pricing. 

Another memorandum Circular has directed mayors to implement price tag law and the immediate posting of municipal price monitoring boards whose tasks include daily monitoring at fish landing, bagsakan centers and all fish displayed in markets. 

“Under the law, mayors have police powers” Chatto reminded local chief executives, urging them to use these. 

As to the problem of financial assistance for fisherfolks, he said a guideline for implementing financial assistance programs to fishery organizations and cooperatives in the provinces has been set. He also dared mayors to put up financial assistance so that the funds given could also be counterparted by the province. 

This is to assure that fishermen get access to financial help from within and not be forced to sell their catch outside where supply release can be controlled for an easy price manipulation, he hinted. 

Chatto has pointed out that even local data gathered points to a serious lack of production which can not cope up with the demand. 

He said collecting catch data from 12 big time fishers, municipal marginal fishermen and other traders who get their fish from outside Bohol shows a clear gap between supply and demand. 

To keep an abundant catch from spoiling, Cahtto said a memorandum circular has also been issued directing LGUS to put up storage facilities and to make an accounting of small time and commercial fishers to get reliable data. 

On this BFAR regional director Andres Bojos said the data could also include the kind of fishing gear used so that the data on the kind of fish caught can be included. 

Capitol has also issued guidelines in personnel deputation for price monitoring as well as legal representatives to represent Bohol in particular cases. 

To keep a buffer stock of mariculture produce, the governor added that guidelines for the freshwater backyard production have been issued. 

All of these are aimed to keep the supply close to the demand and possibly alter the economics of pricing, local observers said. (racPIABohol)

“We have prepared” 
– Guv on Abu threat 

THERE is no need to be alarmed, assures Governor Edgar Chatto as he stressed Bohol has prepared to repel the threat of Abu Sayyaf bandits planning to abduct foreign tourists here for ransom. 

“We have adopted a policy of being prepared all the time, and even then we have approached everything with a high degree of preparedness,” Chatto said after a briefing by military and police security operations at a forum held at the Bohol Tropics Friday. 

In his threat briefing, 2nd Special Forces Batallion Commander, Col. Romeo Brawner said he, along with other Bohol key officials received circulated text messages Monday last week about an intelligence report from a Zamboanga agent. 

The message bared that a band of Abu Sayyaf bandits took on a double-engined speedboat Monday morning heading for Bohol to kidnap and abduct two foreign nationals. 

The reports also said that the group led by a certain Dr. Abu, has already a spotter group in into Bohol a week ahead. 

Sharing the preparations in place to safeguard tourists and Bohol tourism industries, Col Brawner said command conferences were immediately called by the army and other security agencies to prepare for the crisis management. 

The former army spokesperson said the country’s internal security keepers already exhausted five scenarios, which would most likely be attack entries of bandits. 

The tackling of scenarios always help tactical operation planners explore possibilities and plan strategic actions to repel and deny any possible attack, a military strategic planner shared. 

Security operations were prepared for possibilities of onshore abduction, fast-craft interception, sea-craft high-jacking, intercepting dolphinwatching tourists and bandits using diversionary tactics including bombs. 

“We are not alarmists, we do not want to cause alarm, but we planned actions that could be taken to safeguard our peace,” Brawner said. 

On this, the military said they have coordinated with other local security keepers to get assets in the area and beef up local security, especially in Panglao, Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands. 

“We are still in the process of collecting information, intensifying security operations at entry points, beefing up shore patrols and preparing for crisis management,” Brawner added. 

On this, Brawner showed on powerpoint a synchronization matrix to assign areas of security responsibility among the police, Philippine Coast Guard Philippine Navy, Army, Philippine Air Force, Maritime Police and the special forces. 

But while the intelligence reports have been negative as yet, Brawner urged people to report any suspicious looking persons and boats, to the quick reaction hotlines. (racPIABohol)

Bohol under heightened 
Security alert – PD Barot 

BOHOL is under a heightened security alert over intelligence reports from region 12 that a band of Abu Sayyaf bandits head here to kidnap foreign nationals. 

While the police and military authorities received the report which has been negative since last Monday, Bohol police provincial commander Constantino Barot urges people to help them get information on time so that security operatives and crime busters can immediately react. 

Speaking reassurances of a prepared force amid speculations and alarm, Barot stressed that information gathering is everyone’s responsibility. 

Sharing their preparations based on the reports, Barot also added that his men are in fact acting on other reports that armed men have landed in some coastlines of Mabini, italicizing the adequate preparations by strategically relocating its resources where they are most needed. 

Upon receipt of the texted report about the coming of a double engined speedboat with Abus Sayyaf on board, he said he immediately called a conference with police forces of Panglao, Dauis and Public Safety Company to map out action plans. 

Consequently, additional troops were sent to Panglao and the local tourist police office has been beefed up to allow deployment of security forces in strategic points, he said. 

Highlighting the lack of manpower, Barot revealed that in coordination with other government security forces, the Philippine Navy has sent a patrol boat in Balicasag, one of the islands habituated by foreign and local torists making authorities concerned. 

He also added that a Regional Mobile Group detachment (RMG) would be deployed to replace the security operations in Pamilacan island, which is temporarily handled by Baclayon police elements. 

Over the question of whether government sea assets can really go after the sleek and mainstreamed speedboats used by illegal elements, he said the Regional intelligence and Investigation Division has coordinated with the Air Force, who in turn has committed an attack helicopter and a utility chopper for the security operations. 

On the fact that bandits may be hitting other areas in Bohol, Barot said he has declared a heightened alert around the province including beach resorts in Pitogo and Anda. 

Another intelligence agent shared that before getting to Bohol, the band of bandits would be tracked by security operations set up by the provinces of Dumaguete and Siquijor. (racPIABohol)

Bohol eyes BPO 
center in 2011

WE have built a digital communication infrastructure that could boost local jobs, but will investors take the bait?

Taking the cue from the country’s overtaking India as the business process outsourcing (BPO) capital of the world, Bohol officials eye offering Bohol to investors as a future BPO center in 2011, reveals Governor Edgar Chatto during his weekly radio program. 

Recently completing a fiber optic link that connects Bohol to a major information communications hub, local efforts have also succeeded in opening up slots to accommodate at least 10,500 seats for call center and BPO agents, Chatto said. 

Recent records tell that Bohol has only a single call center operating in Tagbilaran despite an infrastructure that could accommodate practically a thousand times more, a graduate from a computer learning center shared. 

With at least five Bohol schools offering ICT and call center operations courses, even the manpower support has proven to be a formidable force for now, he added. 

A year after putting up the infrastructure support for the miracle industry that has netted billions of revenues for the government, government leaders here are taking a serious look at the prospects of a bullish BPO here. 

The newly organized Bohol Information Communication Technology Council (BICT) supervised by the Department of trade and Industry and the Provincial Government has been in a series of meetings to usher in the golden age of ICT in Bohol, the latest of which was this week, Capitol sources said. 

Governor Edgar Chatto, at the recent Kita ug ang Gobernador Friday was ecstatic about the present Bohol capability to accommodate seats for call center and outsourcing industries.

Now with the digital infrastructure and manpower support, Bohol is in a threshold of opening the gates for investors to bring in job opportunities for communication technology workers here and nearby provinces.

More on this, the governor said he is inviting the Commission on Information Communication Technology (CICT) through Commissioner Monchitio Ibrahim to meet with the local council and leaders to iron out the details of the plan. 

The moment ICT starts in Bohol, there would be more to come as the government could build more and more infrastructure to enhance the industry, Chatto said. (racPIABohol)

Stronger private-public
Partnerships in ’11-BCCI

STRONGER private sector presence in partnership with the public sector can be very good for the tourism industry in Bohol, take it from a tested businessman member of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

According to Fortunato Lim of the Fortune Enterprises fame, there is still a good room for development in tourism infrastructure facilities in Bohol to make us globally competitive. 

Speaking for the BCCI, Lim said the private sector can do a lot about the things we need to get right to make Bohol a memorable tourism destination.

Himself having been sent to Phuket for a tourism benchmarking trip, Lim said Thais have a very competitive tourism development with the help of the private sector. 

At the Kapihan sa PIA aired live over DyTR, Lim said that Boholanos can still be very hopeful of the tourism boom which is still expected to reach greater heights this year.

In fact, he said the BCCI is actively engaged in public and private sector partnerships to press on the philosophy of cooperation. 

He said the Chamber has been actively meeting with local government units and agencies to help craft development plans to ensure sustainability.

Lim said that the Chamber sits to local planners and an urban master planner for the creation of a zoning ordinance in Panglao, Bohol’s most profitable growth area in the next few years. 

One of the problems of the tourist island is that it has not legislated its zoning ordinance yet that land owners have a fairly free hand in their development without considering the integral development of the place. 

A good road network in the plan would help spur economic activity, an ace that could make the island more investor friendly. 

With Tagbilaran as a tourist gateway, Lim said suggestions to rid the main thoroughfares of ugly tangles of sagging power and phone lines have been put up and could possibly be a priority to enhance the islands tourism value. (racPIABohol)

Peace stakeholders want 
enhanced HR monitoring

BOHOL peace advocates see an overwhelming need to enhance its human rights monitoring capacity inbed in its peace and order council’s Local Peace Forum (LPF). 

At least the multi-sector representatives gathered at the Bohol Tropics January 4, to be oriented at the Ateneo Law School Human Rights Center’s project to establish Multi-sectoral Quick Reaction Team (MSQRTS) here to help monitor human rights and document possible allegations of violations.

At the gathering, church representatives led by Bishop Leonardo Medrosos, ecumenical groups, local government unit representatives, lawyers from Bohol law schools, non government workers, security forces, government agencies, representatives of the court and the media listened to the nuances of the MSQRT established to monitor extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances. 

MSQRT program coordinator Atty Ma. Krishna Gomez said that aide from the monitoring and documentation, the project also includes training packages for human rights mainstreaming, and psychosocial counseling to beneficiary provinces. 

She shared that since the project started in 2008, the MSQRT has shared Information and shown greater transparency and accountability amongst member institutions as well as enhanced trust amongst members.

The establishment of the body in some provinces has brought in constructive involvement of the media and opened up tables for discussion on the surfacing of issues and joint efforts in finding solutions to EJK and ED. 

On this, Governor Edgar Chatto hailed the efforts of Ateneo vene as he pointed out that the victim centered mechanism brought about by the MSQRT concept is an apt move.

He however stressed that while the confluence of interests is shown in the faces of the attendees and that the multisectoral effort is the right approach, he insists that a dialog would be done in proceeding with the project that deems to be reactive and proactive at the same time. 

Asked if the MSQRT would not be a duplication of the already set LMB, Atty Gomez said most of the decisions would come from local stakeholders. 

“It may be something new, taking the form of the old and perhaps a hybrid of the old and the new”, Atty. Gomez said.

On the other hand, DILG Rustica Mascarinas said “I think that what we have LPF but the scope does not include ELK and ED, so this could be an added feature of the LPF. (racPIABohol) 

Six mariculture parks
Up for Bohol in 2011

BOHOL would establish at least five mariculture parks within the first quarter of 2011, said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) head here. 

Another mariculture park would be due in the succeeding quarter, according to BFAR Cresencio Pahamutang.

The parks would be a venue for new hatcheries of abalone, lapu-lapu, sea bass, snappers, groupers, pompano and kitong, fish that are in high demand for tourists and locals who have not been so used to feasting on fresh water fish.

This way, we could help stabilize the supply of fish especially during the colder months when pelagic

Fishes would be migrating to warmer and thus deeper seas, he said as he explained the noted lower fish catch during the monsoon (habagat) season and the succeeding colder months of the year.

Sharing the seasonal tendency of fisheries, he said that off season would mean lower catch, doubly complicated by the fact that the season also coincides with the heightened buying capacity of people with the holiday season’s fat bonuses. 

These factors help build up and push the prices up as the demand is high and the supply is miserably low.

To help stabilize local supplies during the colder months, the government through the Department of Agriculture-BFAR has pushed for the establishment of the mariculture parks where first class fish could be bred and harvested as easily. 

He revealed that the beginning month would also witness the launching of high-value fingerlings for lapu-lapu, sea-bass, snappers, grouper and kitong at Sinandigan Island in Ubay town. 

Eyed as locations for the mariculture parts are Panggangan Island, in Calape, islets in Ubay, Talibon and Candijay, separate sources said. This has yet to be confirmed by BFAR however. 

Capitol’s Liza Quirog also said that apart from the establishment of mari-culture parks, the government is also into urging people to start backyard fisheries at fresh water impounding systems, farms and ponds to increase the production and fill in the gap left by reduced commercial fishers. (racPIABOhol)

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