Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bohol draws volunteers
For trash-free seas

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol Sept 17 (PIA) -- Thousands of from all walks of life converged on the island’s coastal areas September 17 to do each of their little shares in freeing the seas from trash which has threatened both marine and human environment.

That day, the Boholanos joined international organization Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Clean-Up Day and put in the warm bodies for the earth’s largest sea health volunteer effort. 

This year, the ICC adopts Trash-free seas as its global theme, a vision which organizers hope would inspire communities to do its share in keeping the mentality of ridding the seas of garbage.

Spearheaded by the Bohol Coastal Resource Management Task Force (BCRMTF) and the Capitol, the 2011 coastal Clean-up started as early as 6:00 am and truckloads of trash hauled from the coastline clean-up volunteers started their long way to the Tagbilaran City dumpsites. 

That too, volunteers; some of them as young as elementary pupils to as old as senior citizens scoured the beaches, coastal areas, tideflats, mangrove forests, riverbanks, streams, canals and drains to pick up trashes which would, in a way or another be washed down to the coastlines and off to the seas.

The rains that came pouring Friday evening also helped wash the inland trash nearer to the coastlines, which made it easy to locate.

Rain washed trash have always been the culprits in closed canals and storm drains, city janitors said, while admitting they have been instructed to make sure these plastics are picked before they fall off into the drains.

Volunteers, some clearly protected with the slime by wearing rubber gloves, others spearing garbage with pointed sticks, scooping garbage on the water surface with improvised nets and treating waist deep waters to pick cellophanes entangled in shallow reefs. 

Trash, mostly non biodegradable from small cigarette butts to wine bottles, from cellophane bags to broken appliances, from discarded automobile oil filters to whole truck hoods, from entangled fishing lines to torn up nets and condoms to adult diapers get listed into the standardized data cards which is analyzed to help policy makers come up with measures to address the problem.

In Bohol, local government units and schools mobilized their human resources to walk specific segments of coastal areas and free them from any debris, never forgetting to tally every imaginable trash and haul them in sacks for proper disposal; to landfills and away from the shorelines.

In fact, in Bohol, dive shops and scuba enthusiasts also organized themselves to scour the reef areas and pick cellophanes, shampoo sachets including crown of thorn which prey on corals.

Coast guard volunteers and fishermen also scour the seas and coastlines on boats to pick up floating debris from plastic bottles to carcasses of dead animals.

“This transparent plastic looks exactly like jelly fish, which some large fish eat. When they eat this, you can imagine a slow and painful death for the sea animals,” a fisherman balancing on his boat’s prow about to tie his boat on a public fish landing said, while unloading a sack half full of plastics, fishing buoys and Styrofoam bits.

In several areas, the clean-up also included mangrove planting activities and impromptu beach picnics.

But, several volunteers have noted that even with the growing number of volunteers that Bohol has mustered every year, the bulk of non-biodegradable garbage has not been lessened.

“This may tell us that one day in a year clean-up is never enough, while an emphatic campaign on addressing the problem at source may work much more effectively,” a barangay official of Poblacion 11 in Tagbilaran City said. (30)


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“Full disclosure policy”
needed for LGU loans

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol Sept 17 (PIA) -- Local Government Units which have hidden their financial statements to the public may soon run out of other sources of priority development funds.

This as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) hints the imposition of transparency in local governance and fiscal management through the imposition of the full disclosure policy.

The DILG, which has been awarding to towns and cities the seals of good housekeeping has reportedly made the full disclosure policy as a pre-requisite for loans, government financial assistance and grants from government financial institutions and international donors.

In fact, there have been reports that there are plans to devolve the management and monitoring of the government’s conditional cash transfers (CCT) to local government units who have satisfactorily shown they can be trusted.

The trust can come first from the local government’s compliance of the full disclosure policy, which will tell whether the funds at the LGU’s disposal were indeed spent according to plans.

At the recent Kapihan sa PIA, DILG Provincial Director Louella Lucino bared this as the DILG has earlier issued statements that towns or cities without the Seal of Good Housekeeping are barred from getting loans from government financial institutions.

The seal of good housekeeping, which comes with a P1-million cash incentive has been awarded to at least three of Bohol’s towns and eight more are set to get it upon their compliance of claim requirements, she said.

The housekeeping seal is given to LGUS who have satisfactorily complied with the DILG directive to disclose how they spent their budgets.

In separate reports, DILG secretary Jesse Robredo has been quoted as saying that before the end of the year, provinces, towns or cities without the DILG Seal of Good Housekeeping and a passing report card from state auditors would not get loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines or the Philippine National Bank.

This too as the DILG reiterates, local governments must also comply with government audit reports.

Robredo also reportedly revealed the plans [of government] to devolve the management and monitoring of the CCT to local governments that can be trusted or that the avail-ment of the CCT may also be soon requiring a housekeeping seal.

On the full disclosure policy, DILG Lucino said towns are mandated to put up their financial statements in conspicuous areas in their town centers, in a newspaper of wide circulation or on a local government website.

The Local Government Code and the Procurement Reform Act of 2003 has also directed local governments to post their annual transactions in public places.

Owing to the costs of posting its own websites, the local DILG has offered their DILG website as the venue where they can temporarily publish their financial reports. (30)


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8 Bohol towns earn Seal
of Good Housekeeping
By: Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol Sept 17 (PIA) – Eight Bohol towns earn the Seal of Good Housekeeping for another round of performance assessments conducted by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for 2011, says a Bohol official of the agency.  

DILG Provincial Director Louela Lucino reveals this during the recent Kapihan sa PIA, a weekly forum at the Philippine Information Agency and aired live over local radio station DyTR.

The towns of Clarin, Dauis, Loboc, Panglao, Carlos P. Garcia, San Miguel, Jagna and Ubay follow Catigbian, Balilihan and Maribojoc which has earned a million from the governments’ Performance Challenge Funds (PCF).

The PCF is an incentive fund to qualified LGUs which comes in the form of counterpart funding for Local Development Projects under the LGU Annual Investment Program (AIP) and funded out of the 20% Local Development Fund (LDF) which are consistent with the national development policies, Lucino explains.

Moreover, DILG Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) is way where local governments can be assessed on certain parameters of performance in governance as a basis for the PCF incentive, according to DILG Bohol director.

This has also become a flagship program of Secretary Robredo as a scaled up intervention to elevate government accountability and transparency, shared SGH point person in Bohol Jeffrey Bernasor, during the forum.

The seal is given to local governments who have been recognized with good governance performance particularly in the adoption of "good housekeeping" along certain governance areas.

These areas include local development investment programs consistent with national development goals and priorities to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), compliance with Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 and Climate Change Adaptation Act of 2009, and boost local development.

While doing this, the government assists less abled LGUs in developing and implementing projects for local economic development and poverty reduction, states the PCF concept paper as it appears on DILG website.

This also means the awardees should have no adverse Commission on Audit opinion on its financial statements and highlights transparent and accountable governance by putting on the value of full disclosure.

Last year, Catigbian and Balilihan and Maribojoc each earned a million pesos from the PCF after modeling all Bohol towns in accountable, transparent government service and fiscal management including the adoption of a full disclosure policy advanced by DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, she reports.

Under the Government Appropriations Act of 2011, the DILG has P500M appropriation for PCF under Local Government Performance Management Program to cover financial subsidy to qualified LGUs which comply with the PCF eligibility criteria which is the test of the seal of good housekeeping.

For this year, Bohol’s 8 towns have a month to comply with the requirements to be able to claim their award.

Part of the claim requirement is for them to show they have put up a counterpart fund as reflected in the town’s annual investment plan and a few more certifications.

Failure to comply with the claim requirements could possibly forfeit the million peso award for other local government units all over the country also eye the performance incentive. (30)  

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