Sunday, April 28, 2013

Stain in fingers conclusive 
Presumption of cast vote 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, April 28, 2013 (PIA) –On election day, a person coming into the precinct with stain marks in his fingers would now be presumed he has cast his votes. 

On this, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Bohol through Atty. Ricardo Villares, reading for the Comelec General Instructions clarified that such is so because a person may have really cast his vote by taking up another identity, where he cast his vote. 

Earlier, reports monitored in Bohol said members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) may check the Election Day Computerized Voters List (EDCVL) and check of the voter has indeed cast his vote. 

While the computerized registration of voters for the Automated Election System in the Philippines uses an Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), a person who may have not updated his registration may not yet be identified automatically enough to bar his other registration. 

If, upon checking, a voter’s fingernails are “stained, it shall be a conclusive presumption that he has cast his vote,” according to the general instructions for BEIs. 

A voter who has cast his vote would be given the indelible ink mark on his fingernails which the poll body uses to mark those who have done his duty for this election. 

Moreover, a voter would be asked to leave the polling place, or a watcher may challenge the voter upon presumption that he has already voted. 

When found guilty, the violation is classified an election offense and this denies the offender the benefit of probation, according to the Fair Elections Act. 

In the anticipation that would bring in more voters to a single precinct, the Commission on Elections (COMELC) urges voters to check on their names at the Posted Computerized Voter’s Lists (PCVL) already up at their respective polling places. 

City Comelec election officer Atty. Jonas Biliran said PCVLs have been pre-posted and a voter should check if his name there, get his precinct number and sequence number for ready submission to the Board of Election Inspectors during the election day. 

This shall give the voter enough time to inform the local COMELEC supervisor if his name has been excluded in the list. 

Comelec said unless the name has been crossed out in the PCVL, the BEI shall not allow the voter to join the process. 

Aside from a crossed out name, Atty. Biliran enumerates reasons for deletion from the list: transfer of the voter to a new precinct, failure to vote in the last two polls which disenfranchises a voter, or death. 

Voters who may not have the time to find their precincts can also log on to Comelec website at www.comelec.gov.ph and fill in the slots to be linked to the precinct finder applications. 

The Precinct finder gives one the precinct he is on, but does not give him the voter’s sequence number however. 

Upon voting, where first-come first serve basis is used unlike the priority numbers then, from the holding area seating, the voter approaches the BEI, hand in his sequence number and the he would be verified as voter according to the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL). 

A voter would also need to establish his identity through his photograph, signature, or when a member of the BEI can identify a voter and may do so under oath. 

Only then can a voter be able to obtain his ballot for him to cast his vote, the Comelec said. (30/gg)

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Phl cyberlaw TRO stops not 
ASEAN cybercrime advocacy 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, April 28, 2013 (PIA) – A temporary restraining order (TRO) in the implementation of the country’s cybercrime law does little to douse the spirits of internet sex crimes advocates. 

In fact, even without a unified policy against internet related crimes in Asia, welfare authorities here have joined hands to hammer in regional cooperation in the absence of an integrated regional stand. 

At the 2nd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Conference on Working Towards a Cyber Pornography and Cyber Prostitution-Free Southeast Asia hosted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-7) here at the Bohol Tropics April 23-25, more and more Asian authorities acknowledge the threat of more open internet policy and unrestricted children’s access to the world wide web. 

These more open policy for societies to the internet portals have impacted more of the region’s minors and women, sending a chill up the spines of most ASEAN leaders cognizant of the role of the young in nation-building. 

In the Philippines for example, a survey conducted in selected urban centers in the country revealed that from 2,000,000 internet users of a population of a little over 78,000,000 in 2000, the figure increased significantly in the following years, to 29,000,000 in 2010 as the country’s population zoomed to 99,000,000. 

The same survey showed that more than 50% of the country’s internet users are minors aged 17 years old and below. 

With more permissive access and unrestricted parental guidance in their internet use, coupled with a raging poverty and the lure for fast cash, more and more minors have been drawn to the lure of easy money, according to social welfare authorities. 

Studies also showed that some minors engage in cybercrimes including cyber sex; or the willful engagement, maintenance, control, operation whether directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system for favor or consideration, as defined by Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. 

Beyond cyber sex, some also engage in cyber pornography, which Republic Act 9775 or the Anti Child Pornography Act of 2009 defined as any representation, whether visual or audio or written combination of such by electronic, mechanical, digital, optical, magnetic or any other means of child engaged or involved in real or simulated explicit sexual activities. 

At the Bohol conference, participants and country representatives representing each of ASEAN member countries leaders in welfare work, law enforcement and information communication technology acknowledge that a need for data banking and documentation is needed to scientifically address the issues. 

With major legislative shields either pending or withheld in some member countries, participants also think an expanded and saturated information and awareness as well as advocacy campaign is crucial in keeping kids in the know of such abuses, said DSWD Undersecretary Florita Villar at a press conference in the sidelines of the gab. 

Authorities in the country have served 51 cases of pornography or cyber pornography from 12 regions, in 2012. 

Between 2011-2012, there were 23 females whom DSWD helped either as victims or survivors of cyber crimes from CARAGA region alone, DSWD handouts show. 

In Region 7, from 2011-2012, DSWD noted 18 cases of cyber pornography, the same handout bared. 

Despite the suspension of the implementation of the cyber laws, Usec Villar also believed that even the certainty of jail and assurance of punishment could do much to help curb the problem. 

The statement could also be read as the country has not made any univocal stand against cyber crimes and even the prosecution could not convincingly show it can send criminals to jail. 

Moreover, DSWD said that there is something that communities can do to curb the problem. 

Both Usec Villar and DSWD 7 Regional Director Mercedita Jabagat believes that a re-assessment of the emerging culture which Filipinos adopt can be done. 

While we may not wish our kids to become cyber prostitutes, or be engaged in cyber pornography, communities tend to instill in the minds of kids the exact opposite. 

DSWD authorities echoed the secretary’s concern over the community’s propensity to have preschool kids dance imitations of lewd acts, one that could send a subliminal message that doing it is all right. 

“Hindi naman ako nahipo-an,” (I am not touched anyway) victims would later tell DSWD in rescue cases. 

This common response shows how we need to catch up with the education of the body as a treasure, so that people can truly appreciate the sanctity of their bodies, Jabagat said. (30/HD) 

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Two child protection programs 
In less than a month in Bohol 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol April 28, 2013 (PIA) –In less than a month, Bohol aggressively showed its stand against the potential abuse of children in the onset of a more open tourist policy and a similarly loose policy for internet exposure of kids. 

Last April 12, Boholanos showed their univocal support to stop children’s sexual exploitation in the onset of tourism when it launched the Child Wise Tourism in Bohol. 

This week, Bohol again hosted the 2nd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Conference on Working toward cyber pornography and cyber prostitution-free southeast Asia which was held at the Bohol Tropics. 

Both activities are indications that child protection from tourism and the internet has become a regional discussion topic that has alarmed policy makers. 

During the launch, ChildWise Tourism advocates put up Children are national treasures in their decal stickers they handed out to launching participants. 

The presence of representatives from the welfare services, law enforcement and information technology representatives from 10 of the 11 ASEAN member nations also project a unified concern for the children and women who are placed in more vulnerable situations due to raging poverty and the lure for easy money. 

In the Philippines, the two activities in a span of time underlines the authorities at the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s alarm over the issue which is picture more vividly in a non government organization’s country report on cyber pornography and cyber prostitution here. 

End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) Philippines, has shown through a report that more and more minors and young people are getting unregulated and massive access to the internet; in homes or cafes, without the guidance of adults. 

ECPAT used a survey conducted mostly in selected urban centers in the country to show that of the 98,000,000 household population, internet users are over 50% across selected urban areas. 

DSWD Undersecretary Florita Villar also revealed that the advocacy against cyber crimes in the Philippines is hampered by court orders and pending laws which could get to the issue immediately. 

Already going out and waging a war with nothing but personal convictions, welfare authorities also said the lack of clear documentation of cases further complicate the problem of data-banking cases to help analyze prevalence and magnitude of issues to develop am more comprehensive intervention. 

The Philippine problem is also compounded by a culture of permissiveness where communities unwittingly motivate kids to bare their bodies in public during beauty pageants and community programs where kids are made to sing adult love song, cheered when doing lewd dances and are wrongly motivated by money. 

Growing in an environment like this makes a child think that it is alright to bare their bodies in front of people as long as they are not touched, according to Usec Villar. 

We can’t win against this without the help of communities and sectors, the DSWD key official noted. We need to start it with an education campaign, she added, hinting another controversial move the department could get into. 

Earlier, the DSWD drew flak when it openly criticized by filing a case against a national television program for forcing a child to perform a lewd dance. (30/hd)

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LTO urges “more investors” 
In emission testing centers 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, April 28, 2013 (PIA) –Investors interested in putting up private smoke-emission testing centers (PETC) are most welcome, said Land Transportation Office Bohol chief Samuel Alabat. 

At the recent Provincial peace and Order Council meeting, Alabat, who is only a few months old in the office revealed that his invitation is based on the recent lessened restrictions in the establishment of these smoke belching engine detection centers for road vehicles. 

Alabat’s invitation to investors also came in the wake of motor vehicle owners complaining of too much hassle in getting vehicle emission tests due to few number of testing centers, coupled with the LTO policy of sending live stream videos of vehicles being tested, to its computerized databanks in its Image Repository Database Server (IRDS). 

According to a Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) policy on PETCS, a personnel in the shall also upload these images captured to the LTO IRDS in real time to establish the authenticity of the pictures affixed in the certificates of emission compliance needed during registration. 

A normal daily operation at any of the four PETC in Tagbilaran involves the testing of 32 diesel-engine vehicles and 40 gasoline engines, Alabat told PPOC members. 

A gas analyzer is used for gasoline fed engines while an opacimeter is for diesel fed engines, and it is important that the vehicle can be viewed in real time during tests as per DOTC requirement, according to an information technician at a PETC here. 

While the process does not take too much of a time, the uploading takes the bulk of time so that PECTs can only do as much per day, the technician who asked not to be named said. 

With only four PETCS in Tagbilaran, the delays in smoke testing can mean a vehicle has to be placed on a wait list, giving operators enough reason to operate their vehicles even without completed registration process. 

While the problem is beyond the LTO to settle, Governor Edgar Chatto said he may bring the matter to the DOTC. 

Over the problem, LTO challenged local investors to join in the business of providing smoke emission testing centers, especially now that the DOTC has declared an open policy for these type of services. 

Department of Trade and Industry’s consumer welfare division chief also urged PETC operators to apply for additional lanes at the local DTI office. 

The Clean Air Act mandates the DTI, DENR and the DOTC to establish guidelines and procedures for the inspection of motor vehicles, republic Act 8749 states. (30/ed)

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PPOC believes… 
Picking EWAs should need 
Joint PS recommendation 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, April 28, 2013 (PIA) –Categorization of election watch areas (EWA) should be based on the recommendation that comes from the local joint peace and security (JPS) monitoring team, suggests Bohol Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chief Atty. Leonil Marco Castillano. 

Castillano’s proposal came on the heels of a concern of local officials when the joint regional security immediately placed the entire province of Bohol as an EWA, an initial step to further declaring a place an election hotspot. 

The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), which convened at the JJs Seafoods Village last week also finds it queer that the whole island province is blanketed with the Election Watch Area shroud, without authorities recommending it or at least being consulted about it. 

Although EWA declaration is no big deal compared to an alarming placement of an area under election hotspots, the declaration has visibly irked local leaders because of its deeper implications to the present state of the peace and order in Bohol. 

No less than PPOC chairman Governor Edgar Chatto asked the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) through Officer in Charge Atty. Castillano about the basis on why such an initial declaration was given. 

As to the COMELEC, an EWA is placed in consideration of a presence of intense political rivalry in a place, a history of past violence and the presence of personal armed guards (PAGS). 

But, even Atty. Castillano came out baffled why the whole province was declared, when it is certain that there is no intense political rivalry in at least three towns here. 

Sikatuna, Lila and Alicia leaders have all settled their bids when no one in town came up to oppose incumbent candidates. 

On this, Bohol police chief Constantino Barot, who was equally clueless on the declaration admitted they have verified the initial placement of the 47 towns and a city in Bohol under Comelec EWA. 

The Joint Regional Security Center later downgraded Bohol’s classification from the whole 48 towns to six: Tagbilaran City, Trinidad, Carmen, Buenavista, Danao and Sierra Bullones. 

He also told the PPOC thatthe EWA declaration was based on a report by Police Director General Ager Ontog, Police Regional Director, this, Col. Barot learned during a meeting he attended. 

Of the 48 areas in Bohol, the regional joint election monitoring team, which is comprised of the COMELEC, the PNP, DILG and civil society representatives asserted that such assessments should be consulted and validated by the local governments. 

“I do not understand their definition of intense political rivalry,” Atty. Castillano said. 

Meanwhile, Interior and Local Government Provincial Director also stressed that the DILG has not found any thing to warrant the declaration for Bohol. 

DILG Bohol Director Louisella Lucino fears that the declaration could have a significant repercussion in the tourism industry which caused concern for the local office. 

Over this too, the council agrees that declarationsshould be based on the three mentioned parameters and supported by a recommendation from the areas Joint Security Center. (30/sjp)

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The lost giant clams at 
Lamanoc point, return 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

ANDA, Bohol, April 28, 2013 (PIA) –Generations have scoured the seas around here, looking for the clues which connect the presence of huge clams in the ritual sites of Lamanoc, and the absence of such out-sized clams in the nearby sea. 

These clams, believed to be special vessels used by early pre-historic Boholanos in their offerings to the spirits could be easily sourced out from nearby, but they have disappeared in time. 

Overharvested to near extinction in following centuries, these giant clams were on their way to be seen only in books by the new generations, until the provincial government of Bohol decided to seed them back here. 

For this, older residents of Badiang Anda now saw them back after decades. 

Last week, a team from the Office of the Provincial Agriculture arrived, carrying giant clams in ice boxes, these would be for re-seeding at the Badiang Fishermen’s Association-managed marine sanctuary, off the mystical ritual island of Lamanoc. 

The giant clams are part of those which Bohol recently acquired from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute in Bolinao Pangasinan to reseed Bohol waters, said Larry Pamugas, assistant agriculturist. 

Held in storage at the marine protected area (MPA) in Bingag Dauis to reacclimatize, the clams were then slowly relocated anew to enhance five marine sanctuaries over towns in Bohol. 

In her elation over getting a share of the giant clams, Anda Mayor Angelina Simacio said the clams can now complement Bohol’s best-selling Lamanoc Mystical Tours. 

She also aired her confidence that the giant clams can produce their own food and contribute to the natural sources of food in the sanctuaries. 

“They can attract other fish and marine species which increase biodiversity of the Badiang Marin Sanctuary,” admits a fisherman who doubles as a paddler for the Lamanoc Island Mystical Tour at daytime. 

Lamanoc Mystical Island Tour is a three hour guided tour and trek in the established trails of the ritual island, which shows a generous number of giant clam shells in areas where rituals are offered. 

Lamanoc island got its name from the usual offering to the spirits of the place which a long string of shamans kill, and using giant shell clams as vessels in their rituals, some of these shells here have been dated to several decades before the Spaniards set foot in Bohol. 

An isolated series island-like promontories in Bohol’s southeastern part, Lamanoc is not exactly an island but is adjoined to Bohol mainland by a vast mangrove forest in barangay Badiang. 

Already considered by the residents as the abode of the spirits, Lamanoc has seen a horde of shamans from Bohol and outside who regularly visit this isolated patch of rocky promontories to re-invigorate, admits Fortunato Simbajon, community guide at Lamanoc. 

In the islands ledges, especially those facing the Mindanao sea, indications of early settlement can be traced in through the abstract hematite hand paintings in cave walls, sea stars among the most decipherable painted figures. 

A few more steps and you will see shards of broken jars, a few rotting dug-out coffin with traces of a skull with flattened forehead, laying beside conch shells and fossilized giant clams. 

“The fact that you have lots of these shells in the ritual altars tell a big story of the presence of these marine creatures in Badiang, centuries ago,” Simbajon said. 

It was once lost, now they are found, would a ritual offering be in the offing? (30/ed)

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Bohol welcomes tours, tourists 
At new Bohol Tourism Complex 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol April 28, 2013 (PIA) –A fenced complex, neatly tucked along the city’s main thoroughfare yet inconspicuous for its distance for the buzz of traffic is now fast becoming a tourism centerpiece for city tours. 

The complex, topped by a 1920 structure which has later rebuilt to reflect the renewed political climate in 1965, also includes at least three more buildings that unwittingly broadcast to tourists Bohol’s development priorities in the present administration. 

The new Bohol Tourism Complex is a visible sign of Bohol’s eco-cultural tourism centerpiece for development program and puts tourists into a better understanding of Bohol development priorities in its effort to oust its people from poverty, explains Cristopher Boncales, Bohol employee at the Tourism Office and one of Bohol’s respected tour guides. 

Governor Edgar Chatto also urged tour guide members of Kahugpungan sa mga Bol-anong Tour Guides (KABOG) Inc. to include Bohol Tourism Complex, which has been retrofitted to bring back its grandeur as a residence of past governors. 

Chatto inducted the new officers and members of the board of the KaBoG last Tuesday at the main hall of the Mansion, the complex’s centerpiece heritage structure. 

The complex features the Governors’ Mansion, the official city residence of the governor, which was built in 1920’s as a dormitory for girls from out of the city and nearby towns as they attend Bohol Provincial High School. 

During the incumbency of then Governor Carlos P. Garcia, who hails from Talibon town, the building was transformed into his unofficial city residence, which also marks the year when the building was embellished to suit into the stature of the residing official. 

It was then called the Governor’s Mansion, in consideration of Garcia, a name which will stick until after the EDSA Revolution in keeping with the renewed political climate of the time. 

During the war, officers of the Japanese Imperial Army used it as their billeting quarters, according to a printed profile of the Governor’s Mansion. 

This could be the reason why some people affix a negative connotation on the building, making the succeeding governors distance themselves from the care and upkeep of the building, according to a neighbor who added that a derision against the Japanese army came out naturally from peace loving Boholanos then. 

Years of neglect and cursory fixes later, the building underwent major face-lifting by a local architect in the administration of Governor Lino Chatto, recalls historial Marianito Luspo. 

Architect Venerando Dumadag transformed the structure into the now stately mini-Malacanang of Bohol, complete with well manicured lawns and lit-up fountains. 

In the late 1980’s, the Governor’s Mansion was renamed People’s Mansion, a name it retained until recently. 

The ascent of Gov. Edgar Chatto to power also marked a new season for the People’s Mansion. The administration saw the potential of the Mansion to be a showcase of Bohol’s eco-cultural tourism destination and centerpiece programs of the administration. 

Recently, the government refurbished the historic facility, which now can be claimed as reflective of the cultural heritage of Bohol, Boncales pointed out. 

To complete the tourist allure, Bohol also housed within the complex the Telephone and Radio System Integrated Emergency Response 117 which links and coordinates local rescue and response units through its communications unit, emergency medical unit and rescue and retrieval teams in the event of emergency and disaster. 

Also inside the complex is the Bayanihan Coordinating Unit, which mainstreams the synergy, cooperation and collaboration and teamwork for the sustainable development of the Boholano. 

Among the Bayanihan Coordinating Unit’s flagship programs is forging partnerships in education especially in classroom building construction, provision of teaching equipment and school supplies to raise the quality of education and private sector participation. 

Among the complex’s features is a Bahay Kubo and vegetable garden showcase. 

The garden is a demonstration farm which eloquently states the Bohol agricultural development and food sufficiency plan with its Food Always in the Home (FAITH), herbal and Organic Plants Enhancements (HOPE) and Chicken Always Raised in the Yard (CHARITY) slogans. 

Another key service, the Bohol Tourism Office sits at a nook in the complex. 

With tourism as one of the key economic drivers in the province, Bohol legislated the office which shall be responsible in implementing tourism development plans serving as tourism promotion and marketing arm of the province. 

Now located inside a single stop, the place, called Bohol Tourism Complex poses itself as a veritable first stop for guests coming into the province especially that the Department of Tourism set up Bohol as a “Tourism learning center,” a brochure from the complex said. 

On this, Governor Chatto said the complex accommodates guests in the Tabilaran City Tour Package. 

The complex will support functional linkages with other key stakeholders of the tourism industry for the promotion and tourism advancement in Bohol, Chatto told the tour guides. (30/ed)

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Foto-contest to document 
1st Saulog street dancing 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol April 28, 2013 (PIA) -- Lit by the fire of devotion to San Jose, Tagbilaranons will come out to the streets for the first time and dance to the beat of feverish street dancing on April 30. 

This historic event, to be participated in by 9 of the city’s 15 districts, promises to be one which is highly competitive, colorful and artistic, event organizers have said. 

In the light of the historic religious event and with a corresponding opportunity for capturing countless candid moments by dancers, instrumentalists, propsmen, or well-wishers, an independent group of photographers bring in an open category photo competition for the day’s dance showcase. 

Fuego: lighting the fire for the Saulog sa Patron is our humble contribution in helping document the momentous event as well as open perfect chances for the artist photographers to showcase their works, organizer Nilo Sapong said. 

Organized in coordination with the city government, Fuego is an open competition for photographers using digital cameras be they the point and shoot or the digital single lens reflex cameras. 

According to the mechanics, participants to the competition need to register P200.00 at the registration booth located at BQ Mall Atrium which will be set up from Sunday, April 28-30 at 11:00 AM. 

The registration gets him an event pass where a control number is printed at the back, which will later be used to mark an entry during exhibits. 

This ID allows a participant to break the cordons during the street dancing to take the best shots he would need to comprise his entry or entries into the competition. 

At the end of the street dancing, the participant will submit his entries by showing his compact flash (CF) or secure digital (SD) card to the developing studio technician where from which he will pinpoint his chosen entries for developing. 

All entries would be printed at the cost of the participant, into 8R prints at the official developing partner: Fuji Express Foto Center at the BQ Mall Atrium, which will accept entries until 6:00 PM. 

All entries are printed without any digital enhancements and shall become the property of the organizers after judging. 

All entries which pass the screening would be set up for exhibit at the City Hall Atrium from May 6 to 17 and winners would be awarded on the 17th at 3:00 PM where non cash prizes include overnight stay at famed resorts in Bohol. (30/hd)

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