Sunday, July 29, 2012

DOST offers new SET UP for 
MSMES needing to step–up 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 29, 2012 (PIA) In a re-invigorated push to perk up Micro, Small and medium enterprises (MSME) which have been largely credited for breathing life to local economies, the government has showcased anew, a set-up that helps MSMES increase local production and a more appealing ground to compete in the global market. 

Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program – (SET-UP) is a nationwide strategy to encourage and assist micro, small, medium enterprises to adopt technological innovations to improve their operations and boost productivity and competitiveness, explains Regional Director and Engr. Rene Burt Llanto of the local Department of Science and Technology (DOST). 

At the Kapihan sa PIA with Awarding Ceremonies and distribution of grants, the DOST, the government’s premier science and technology research agency revealed a set up that enables business firms to address technological problems through technology transfer and technological intervention, DOST Bohol Field Manager Marcial Tanggaan said. 

Such is to improve productivity through better product quality, human resource development, cost minimization, waste management and other activities related to production, added Engr Llanto. 

In Bohol, DOST set up has helped around 31 small and medium enterprises with some P16 million total grants, Llanto revealed. 

DOST’s first batch of grantees include Total woodkraft, Bohol Quality pastries, Jojies Food Manufacturing Industries, GIJ Foods, Kiddies Bake Hauz, Tessie’s Sweets and Pastries, Tienda Boholana, Bakeshop on the Rock, Delia pure tablea, STAIRS, Hermie’s metal and construction services. 

These investments have stepped up their set up with the DOST. 

Under the program, DOST helped these investments in their technology upgrading, product standards and testing, packaging and labeling, data base management and information system as well linkaging and networking. 

Linkaging and networking is by raw materials sourcing, marketing, technical entrepreneurial, financing, and equipment design and fabrication 

DOST set up is largely envisioned to support the critical role MSME which comprise about 99% of the country’s registered enterprises. 

The government pushed for the set up because MSME account for 53% of total employment generated by registered enterprises in the country. (30)

Kalahi makes a difference 
to the Eskayas of Lundag 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 29, 2012 (PIA) – Perched atop the mountain fastness of Lundag in Pilar town, a community of indigenous people has held on to the tradition of the Eskaya for generations. 

About twenty kilometers away, in the hazy flatlands west of the mountains lie the town center. 

Other than the visual connection, a dirt road that winds up the mountains is the Eskayas only connection to the outside world. 

While preserving the culture and tradition ranks high in the government’s priorities for the tribe that occupies the boundaries of Duero, Guindulman, Candijay, Pilar and Sierra Bullones towns, would relegating them in their tiny remote worlds be enough justification that they be kept away from civilization? 

This question nagged the past mayors of Pilar town who also thought these people do not deserve shrugs of indifference. 

Attempts to connect the tribe to the Poblacion in Pilar started then in the past, but the makeshift road that links the two centers has dilapidated itself, and some portions of it are best navigated on foot. 

Although not your all weather type of road, the access drastically cut walking time from Lundag to the town center in half, not yet so ideal for Eskaya vegetable traders to get their products to the market before they wilt. 

Spring onions and cabbage can not be sold at premium price when wilted, confesses a woman tribe member. 

Remote and inaccessible for most part of the time, especially on rainy days, the Eskayas of Lundag learned high value commercial crop cultivation aided by the high altitudes and the kind of soil that most forest fringed communities. 

But with a road carved out of the mountain sides, rains erode the road surfaces and brings in knee deep mud that cuts off the village, said Lundag Eskaya elder Eugene Lloren. 

We have to devise a plan to strengthen the portions that are most impassable, said Mayor Wilson Pajo, who was among those chief executives who vigorously believes Eskaya or not, they deserve access too government help like any other minority groups. 

But, at a loss of development funds, the town can only do as much: scrape land-slid portions and pray the road retains its form until the next rainy season. 

When the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development came, things emerged bright, admits Gualberto Jaspe, Pilar Information Officer. 

With it, the Eskaya and the barangay council organized to come up with a community participatory assessment of the village needs, and deciding on fixing the inaccessible parts of the 18 kilometer makeshift road earned no objections. 

Funded by the Word Bank, Kalahi helped bond people of the Eskaya and the rural community in Lundag, pushed them to identify more critical portions of the road so the appropriate rehabilitation works could be done to assure the steady stream of vegetable buyers from transporting the products. 

When the project funds ran out, another round of project funds from the Millennium Challenge Account opened, and this lengthened the rehabilitation, Gualberto Jaspe said. 

Jaspe, who sits as SB Secretary, information officer and personnel officer said the Eskaya and the baragay leaders picked the most difficult parts of the road for rehabilitation and put in community labor to complete the project. 

Now after rehabilitating portions of the farm to market roads, tribe traders said getting their products to the town center can be done in 30 minutes, way better than the two hours then. 

It also means that their products get less product spoilage owing to better roads, even if much could be desired. 

We just make do with the little we have and make sure traders can get their trucks up the mountains, Mayor Pajo added. 

This way, we make sure the Eskaya gets a much better financial freedom, even if we would wish they keep their traditions with them, the mayor said. 

In Pilar, local officials desire that the Eskaya keep their culture from contamination. But keeping them in their world high up in the mountains deprive them of the services they deserve. The road network is just a link, when people use it, it opens up a different kind of life for their kids. 

They deserve it. (30)

A KALAHI MCA feature… 
Mabini farmers tame 
Tabunok floods with 
300 meter river dike 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

MABINI, Bohol, July 29, 2012 (PIA) –Then, most farmers could only look helplessly as the floodwaters from the overflowing Tabunok River creep up and drown their rice crops. 

Now, armed with the participatory assessment skills, plus an engineering inspiration, they have high hopes that their efforts give them a good fighting chance against the notorious floods that has claimed several lives here. 

For most farmers, “tabunok” spells good harvest. Here, Tabunok is also fatal and destructive. 

Tabunok, a local term for rich loam deposits left after a flood, is what most farmers here capitalize to produce the harvest in the more that 150 hectares of rice and prime farmlands. 

The rich loam deposit, which the river brings, also causes the river to be called Tabunok. 

Tabunok River partly assures people of good harvest when it brings in the rich soil during its flow. And when the water is just a bit too much, the flow also portends death and destruction, when the collected rainwater from the grazing grounds upriver converge to wash down Cogtong Bay, said Barangay Chairman Rodrigo Vallespin. 

When that happens, he admits he could not sleep as he has to direct the barangay disaster council to effect the evacuations, knowing that the flooding may not only destroy crops. 

When the floods come, it would be in a flash, he said adding that a school girl crossing the ankle deep stream down river was suddenly washed out to sea when the raging water tumbled down. 

When the rains come at night, I could not sleep tight, knowing that down the village center, the water built up in the mountains could easily flood the ricefields and endanger the people. 

To protect the barangay from the breaching of the river, the people in one participatory situational analysis identified a river control dike to guide the water’s flow and spare the barangay from the gush. 

An 80 meter river dike funded by the barangay calamity fund proved to be one huge help then in 2008. 

But during bigger rains, the water overflows before the wall, still filling the vast plains, shares Margarita Vallespin. 

With several other concerns the barangay has to face, completely putting up the river dike as floodwater control was only a dream for the people. Until Makamasang Tugon (MT) came. 

A fund granted by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) to continue the government package of assistance for identified communities previously named Kalahi, the MT stirred the hope of the people of flood-prone San Isidro. 

Having already identified the dike as a priority, the barangay tapped the sub-project fund for another 285 meters of flood control dike. 

The fund grant is only a sub project, explains DSWD Regional Social Marketing Officer Simeon Remata III, as the primary project is training and mentoring communities to function on their own, driven by the development they earlier identified. 

To make sure they get the most out of the funds, the Barangay Sub-Project Management Council decided to implement the project on their own, in a system DSWD called the community force account. 

In fact, we made sure that the project is completed within a month, to let us be assured that the dike is in place before the rains come in July, chairman Vallespin, who also sits in the BSPMC admitted. 

Implemented in February this year, the 285 meters flood control project even accomplished 15 meter more, Vallespin boasts. 

Now snaking along the river path, the dike rises a good two feet above the plains, the approximately a feet above the usual flooding height, the community members attest. 

Now with a dike that is designed to protect them and their fields, it is now up to the coming rainy season to prove if the taming of the river works. 

It, however is not a problem for the barangay chairman who knows exactly what to do if that happens. (30)

Are you one of us? 
Eskaya blows whistle 
On “tribesmen claims” 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 29, 2012 (PIA) – If one is diligent enough to dig into the employee records of police officers and firemen, chances are one finds several indigenous people among them. 

Or, at least, that is what indigenous people residing in a community in Lundag, Pilar claim, over the practice of police and firemen applicants securing a certification as members of the indigenous people to pass through a specific height requirement for service personnel in the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. 

In a chance meeting with government authorities and the Eskaya community in Lundag, leaders of the cultural minority group in Bohol bemoaned of a practice by police or firemen applicants who “suddenly become indigenous people” just to pass the height requirement for government. 

At the meeting July 21, 2012 in Lundag were Department of Social Welfare and development national and regional offices representatives, Pilar Mayor Wilson Pajo, town leaders and barangay officials as well as representatives from the indigenous community including their tribal leader. 

It may be recalled that according to Section 30 (h) of Republic Act (RA) 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Act of 1990, as amended by RA 1998, or the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998, the height must be at least 1.62m and 1.57m for male and female, respectively.

For applicant however who could not make the height requirement, especially for indigenous people who could be unjustly shut out of the possibility for service and employment, the law also provides that a waiver for height and age requirements shall be automatically granted to applicants belonging to the cultural communities.

The provision of law however is interpreted rather interestingly by applicants not members of any cultural minorities as several have allegedly asked certifications from IP leaders of the waiver. 

This should be stopped, stresses Mayor Wilson Pajo, who has himself been asked to attest to waivers which supposedly came from tribal leaders. 

By putting in non tribe members, many of their eligible men could not anymore get in government as most positions are easily filled by people who claim as tribe members, Pajo said. (30)

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