Friday, January 21, 2011

Chatto thumbs down
Death penalty move

“ANYTHING short of death penalty,” says Governor Edgar Chatto who was staking his personal stand on the move to reimpose capital punishment.

This too as two bills are reportedly pending in the House of Representatives, all for the resurrection of death penalty.

“My stand has always been consistent even when I was still a congressman”, Chatto, now Bohol governor reiterates, “I have always been pro-life.”

“The value for life is very high on my hierarchy” [of values], he said even as he learned that one bill was filed by then Bohol governor, now Representative Erico Aumentado.
Considering the raging public debates on the death penalty as crime deterrent, Chatto said whatever measures we do, we can impose whatever it is, short of death.
Talks about the reimposition of the death penalty resurrected with senators expressing support on the move even as newspapers reported that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and several congressmen thumbed down the move.

Canon lawyer and Bohol Bishop Leonardo Medroso also have the same view with Chatto.

At a casual talk during multisectoral gathering in Bohol, Bishop Medroso shared about his conviction of the sanctity of life and the divine law of life.

According to reports, Rep. Erico Aumentado filed House Bill 03993, which will restore the death penalty for capital offenses as defined in the revised penal code.

Aumentado also wants that crimes of carjacking with homicide; kidnapping with homicide or for ransom; manufacturing, smuggling or trafficking of dangerous drugs and plunder cases among those punishable by death.

Another bi, HB 00744 filed by Rep. Jane Tan Castro, which declares illegal logging a heinous crime can incur the penalty of death.

Aumentado’s bill is now on 1st reading while Castro’s bill has remained in the justice committee.

This again as many congressmen, including Rep. Rodolfo Biazon and Rafael Mariano openly share their belief that re-imposition of death penalty will not deter crime.

Biazon said it is not a penalty, but a law enforcement issue.

Instead, Biazon as reported by Inquirer said, “we have to strengthen judicial processes and implementation of laws in this country.” (racPIABohol)

Bohol shapes probe team
For extra-legal killings

NOW, claims of human rights abuse especially on extra legal killings (EJK) and enforced disappearances (ED) in Bohol would be looked upon by a team crafted by the Local Peace Forum (LPF) for documentation, validation and monitoring.

This as the multi-sectoral LPF led by Bishop Leonardo Medroso and Governor Edgar Chatto convened the forum January 20, to discuss on its future plans and integrate in one of its functions the monitoring, documentation and validation of EJKs and EDs.

In a move to incorporate the EJK and ED in its areas of concern, the LPF adopted the Multi-Sectoral Quick Response Team as an added area of concern for Bohol human rights monitoring as proposed by Asia Foundation and the Ateneo Law School’s Center for Human Rights.
The adoption [of the MSQRT] is a huge leap for Bohol in its efforts to strengthen its human rights protection to its people, Gov. Edgar Chatto said, a day after the LPF made the formal motion of its establishment.
The establishment of the MSQRT, can also be said to be pushed by the local efforts to validate the allegations that there have been many unresolved cases of EJK and ED here, making the province ninth among the top ten areas with EJK and ED issues.
Militant groups here have been relentlessly asking for justice for about seven cases which they considered as EJK or ED.
Some of these cases were of Olympio Crame whose body was found buried in an abandoned rebel camp in Sohoton Calape, Liezelda Estorba who was shot by a neighbor for alleged jealousy, militant leader Mario Auxilio who was shot by Hilario Diola, a member of a religious sect Alimaong, Nestor Aringque who was shot by motorcycle riding men in Mabini, Bayan leader Victor Olayvar who was shot by motorcycle riding men in Cantubod Danao and Ronald Sendrijas who was shot in front of a city hospital in Tagbilaran.      
Bohol Commission on Human Rights head Rito Montes, who is also a member of the LPF however said CHR considered most of the alleged cases as common crimes and not politically motivated. 
Chatto, who also knew of the presence of other human rights watch-groups and alliances clarified that the MSQRT would be independent but would be operating within the LPF and under the aegis of the Provincial Peace and Order Council. (racPIABohol)

“Queen of Phl yams” At Bohol Ube Fest

FROM its modest mounds, kinampay Bol-anon, touted as the most aromatic of all purple yam varieties in the Philippines gets to be celebrated anew with the annual Bohol Ube Festival this January 25-27 at the Bohol Cultural Center.

Popularizing the Bohol ube kinampay seemingly needs more than just getting it into the Bohol Hymn, local officials have united in putting up an annual event to promote and help the ube growing farmers sell their harvest, said Eleno Evangelista of the Office of the Provincial Agriculture.  

At the weekly Kapihan sa PIA, Evangelista and Crops Division chief Sergio Cuaco were sent by OPA Larry Pamugas to drumbeat on the upcoming root-crop’s flea market of ideas.

“Kinampay,” the rootcrop that has been the main ingredient for the purple ubejam, ice-cream, masa podridas and other home cook ideas and Bohol’s pride as the queen of Philippine yams, would be the queen product of the fair.

Now sold at a more expensive price of about P50.oo a kilo, the penchant for the real kinampay among commercial food processors has not tapered or dissuaded them from getting it here, said Cuaco.

Another variety of the purple yam, a truly deep purple but less aromatic, the “baligon-hon” is also commercially available, but its sales could not topple the kinampay, he said.

Both kinampay and baligonhon belong to the purple ube varieties and are among the more expensive, added Eleno Evangelista of the marketing and promotion section of the aggie office.

Other than the kinampay and the baligonhon, white varieties are also up for sale at the festival venue, Evangelista said.  

Among the most common commercial white varieties are kabus-ok, tam-isan, binanag, baliko, iniling and gimnay, all of them making their commercial debuts after the industry has been considered a little above the backyard farm production classification.

Grown in almost all of Bohol especially in areas where there is good drainage system, ube, (dioscorea alata) shows enough promise as experts said a hectare can harvest about 4 tons.    

Now a priority rootcrop in Bohol, ube, has shown promise with majority of Central Visayas  supplies coming from Bohol, sources at the OPA said.

Basing from the calls we get from buyers and investors, our ube is the hope of farmers, but the problem of price has consistently bugged us, admits Cuaco.

Sourcing our planting materials alone costs farmers immensely that pricing is usually determined at this factor, Cuaco, who hints that farmers could be helped with new propagation technologies. (racPIABohol)

Petron offers cheap Pinoy Gas, 
New fuel players in Bohol ok’d

BOHOL dug an ace in its negotiations to bring down to the bargaining table oil companies that have been perceived to be dictating the fuel prices in the region.

At the threat of bringing the issue of high fuel costs in the Central Visayas to the Regional Development Council and get negative publicity blows, major oil companies representatives buckled and bargained with the consent to allow independent fuel players to enter Bohol and offered to make available in Bohol an affordable fuel brand for agriculture, fisheries and public transport sectors.

Bohol through Governor Edgar Chatto recently met with the big three companies upon the invitation of the Department of Energy, Trade and Industry as well as major stakeholders.

The meeting was to probe for ways to level-off the price of fuel, which has been reportedly high in the Visayas compared to other areas.

Cebu, through Governor Gwendolyn Garcia for example has reportedly questioned major oil companies on the noted high distribution price for fuel and oil in the Visayas.

Gov. Chatto also said that Negros Oriental and Siquijor have also similar problems, one that could legitimize the issue as a topic for RDC intervention.

“Region 7 agreed as the entire central visayas is affected,” Chatto said after admitting telephone conferences with Negros Oriental, Suquijor and Cebu leaders.

“In our meeting last week with the major oil players, we got that international pricing and foreign exchange rates factor in pricing oil,” Chatto told media during his weekly radio program.

But even then, with sea transportation costs and land delivery rates factored, it was found out that Visayas, which is much closer to Luzon have higher prices, the Bohol governor hinted. 

According to him, “to implement urgent measures, major oil players have agreed to the opening of Bohol for distribution by independent players other that Shell, Caltex and Petron.”

He also broke the news that a program signed in Manila recently would make Petron open up Pinoy Gas, a more affordable gasoline formulation for public utility vehicles, bancas and farm equipment.

Reports said the Petron Pinoy Gasoline is cheaper by P3 a liter compared to regular gasoline, perhaps the solution to the plea of transport groups and other sectors currently burdened by the high cost of fuels.

“PinoyGas however would not be available until 4 months to a year from now,” Chatto said.

To this, independent player Total Oil, who happened to be at the meeting also said they can put up a similarly priced fuel in less the time, Chatto said.

Chatto explained that the opening up for independent players would help bring the prices down by disrupting the monopolies which the major players have apparently made here.

Chatto also wanted to know why Ubay and Talibon distributors can offer their fuel at lower costs compared to Tagbilaran, putting in the general speculation that there is an apparent price fixing syndicate among the major players and distributors. (racPIABohol)

Yap: stop rice subsidy
For industry viability

PRICE the government subsidized rice at par with the commercial rice and make the local rice industry viable.

This fairly sumps up the solution pushed by former Agriculture Secretary and now Bohol representative Arthur Yap, who sees that government intercession in offering cheap imported rice has affected the local industry.

Yap, who is personally immersed into the industry problems as a district representative in Bohol’s rice producing regions is convinced that putting in measures to improve the industry is a thing worth working on.

Yap was also reacting partly to the reported P177B accumulated debt incurred by the National Food Authority (NFA) for alleged over-importing of rice and then selling low.

“NFA is mandated by law to provide the country with cheap rice, and that is so even if it has to lose in the process,” explains Yap.

Imported rice, if investments had to be recouped, should be sold at around P30.00 a kilo, not P18 or P24, as we have now, Yap said as he illustrates how the government loses in the deal.

The question now is what to do with the poor.

On that, Yap said the government can still help the poor by going to the conditional cash transfer beneficiaries card which may be used as discount cards to beneficiaries.

He did not say however if the discounts would be at par with the current NFA rice prices.

Yap, who informed Boholanos listening on air that he has in fact filed a bill to that effect hinted that the importation and offering cheap rice has not made the local rice industry viable.

He said the country’s rice buyers do not easily buy local rice at a high price because they can not offer it with a huge price disparity compared to the cheap rice flooding the markets.

Many people also believe that the Yap pushed solution could engage more Filipinos into rice farming knowing that the industry can become hopeful.

President Simeon Benigno Aquino also exposed allegations that the country’s importation fattened only very few pockets.

On this, the out-spoken representative said he supports the call for investigations to determine if indeed there is truth to the matter.

Recalling however that the private sector importers’ arrangement was on a first-come, first-served, he said that if only a group cornered the import volume, he did not know of it.

He called for investigation nonetheless and said the NFA should verify the allegations and determine if there was any wrongdoing involved.

To Yap, the private sector importation program by the NFA allowed private sector entities to import rice using their own funds, so they can assist government to stabilize local rice supply and prices by their own imports.

“In this way, government does not need to import the entire rice shortfall.”

This way, “no government funds are used here, these are private funds,” Yap said during a radio interview Thursday morning. (racPIABOhol)

La Nina rains to
pour until May

THE La Nina spawned rains swamping most areas of Bohol last week could be just a preview of what is yet to come in the next four months.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), large parts of the country, including Bohol would have a wet summer characterized by above-normal rainfall in March, April and May.

In reports, chief of PAGASA’s climatology and agrometeorology division even broke the bleaker news: weather models and advisories from observation centers across the globe forecast La Nina to stretch until May, with the peak occurring in February.

The weather bureau said that La Niña, or a weather condition characterized by above average rains arrived in the Philippines last October and has so far submerged coastal communities in parts of Australia.

Hitting the globe in cycles, the La Nina, PAG-ASA said brings in “above-normal” rainfall incident similar to what happened in the Philippines in the summer months of 1998 when the entire country had one rainy summer.

The cycle is expected to repeat in 2011.

In Bohol, the moderate rains that fell for almost two days drenched most towns causing flooding in ricefields in Alicia, loosening the soil which toppled trees and consequently obstructed traffic in Jagna, creating minor alarm over river towns of Inabanga, Sevilla and Loboc and rendering some roads impassable in Carmen.

Over this too, Governor Edgardo Chatto has advised town disaster risk reduction management councils to be on their toes in the next months.

Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council has identified in its hazard maps areas for close watch including landslide prone, tsunami or storm surge areas, towns with flooding incidents and crucial road networks that may be affected by the rains.

Since December, PAG-ASA said the eastern seaboard of the country has been getting above-normal rains. (racPIABohol) 

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