Tuesday, July 2, 2013

TODAY's NEWS

Collecting tarsiers can get 
One to jail, and P200K fine
Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 02, 2013 (PIA) –Collecting, possessing a Philippine tarsier, one which the law categorizes as endangered species can get one a P20,000 to P200,000 penalty plus a prison term of 1 year and a day to 2 years, according to Republic Act 9147.

RA 9147, or Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act governs the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats especially those found in the Philippines and other critical habitats and applies to all exotic species subject to trade, cultures, maintained and bred in captivity in the country, Cora Colarines said. 

Colarines, the environment department’s Bohol information officer guested the Kapihan sa PIA Thursday along with Restituto Baay Jr., the agency’s protected areas and wildlife bureau chief at the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The forum on the air discussed issues on the recent death of a tarsier which found its way to Manila Golf Club, a clear indication that wild animals endemic to the country’s southern islands continue to be traded illegally.

DENR authorities believe a tourist from the nearby posh villages could have bought the tarsier as a pet and somehow lost it, before concerned caddies at the club captured the animal and turned it over to the environment agency.

The wild animal, held too far away from its natural habitat in the Greater Mindanao Faunal Region naturally died, before the department of environment authorities could consummate its release to the wilds in the Corella Bohol Tarsier Sanctuary. 

Tarsiers, one of the world’s smallest primates, are supposed to be protected as they have accordingly been here for almost 50 million years.

But cuddly and cute enough, tarsiers have been Bohol’s main tourism mascot, and tarsier key chains, refrigerator magnets, paper weights and other popular novelty could probably pushed some tourists to consider them lovable as pets, mused local environment officials. 

The fact remains, collecting these tarsiers without the proper permits can get one jail terms and heavy penalties. While collecting tarsiers has its own matrix of penalties, selling it can also add up to the illegal violations, where one can get a year to two years jail term and P2,000 to P200,000 fines, according to the law. 

The same law also prescribes the penalties for all marine and freshwater mammals, which the las has categorized as endangered. 

Killing dolpins, whales and other cetaceans can get one a 4 years and a day to 6 years imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 to P 1,000,000. Inflicting injuries to the same animals can mete one 2 years to 4 years jail term and a penalty of P50,000 to P500,000.

For these marine mammals, a person who is caught possessing meat, derivatives and by-products can still get a year to two years in jail and a fine of P20,000 to P200,000.

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Plan to ID mark tarsiers now 
awaiting permitees consent 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 02, 2013 (PIA) –How do you know if that tarsier you saw today at the viewing park is the same tarsier you will see tomorrow? 

Hardly, says wildlife authorities. On this, authorities revealed a plan from a research group to properly mark tarsiers on exhibit in Bohol to facilitate identification. 

The wild animal experts at the environment bureau however did not discuss the details of the marking plan. 

“The move is to help researchers identify if the tarsiers on display in Bohol’s numerous wildlife interaction stops have been conveniently replaced after the older one has died,” shared Restituto Baay Jr. 

“It’s practically difficult to determine,” admits Baay, who is the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Chief at the local Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). 

Speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA which was aired live over DyTR Thursday, Baay also confessed that tarsiers displayed for tourism in Bohol need better treatment as these animals die when stressed out. 

In house tour guides at the “tarsier conservation” stop in Upper Bonbon Loboc tell visiting tourists that a tarsier needs at least a hectare for itself to survive, but there are about 12 tarsiers placed on exhibit in a little over a hectare lot. 

On this, allegations surface saying that tarsier interaction and “sanctuary workers” easily replace a tarsier which dies, and many would not notice the difference. 

To help track if the animals displayed are still the same over time, Baay said student researchers from Bohol Island State University have proposed to DENR, a system which would help them identify individual tarsiers through marks. 

“We are now consulting tarsier permittees and asking for their consent regarding of the proposal,” Baay said. 

Baay, a forester who commits himself to the protection and conservation of Bohol’s wildlife which have been also categorized as threatened species, also remarked that even if they conduct regular inspections at the area where tarsier permitees display their captive tarsiers, there is no way the DENR can tell if the tarsiers are still the same. 

At the Upper Bonbon Loboc Tarsier Permitees “Sanctuary,” the DENR authority said they record some 113 tarsiers from 13 permitees, and only 12 of these are placed for viewing everyday. 

He also said that the rest are either kept in the breeding facility outside the tourist viewing areas, or kept in another portion of the fenced facility. 

Last week, a national daily reported that caddies from Manila Golf Club stumbled upon a tarsier in the golf club’s thickets, a wild animal found so far away from home. DENR in Manila believed some Bohol tourists from nearby Forbes Park could have bought the tarsier and brought it to Manila as a pet. 

That same week, reports reaching the DENR in Bohol detail a worker at newly opened Bilar Hill Park who was video-taped selling a tarsier to tourists. The DENR however failed to apprehend the culprit. 

Tarsiers are nocturnal primates which are only found in the region called Greater Mindanao Faunals, which characterize the islands of Bohol, Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao to mainland Mindanao down to Sulu and then to Sulawesi to Borneo, which used to be connected by land bridges millions of years ago. 

Being environment specific, the tarsiers never survive when brought outside these areas, according to Baay. 

But the same newspaper also reports that a similar sighting of the large-eyed wild animal was noted near the residence of a popular Filipino singer in Manila. 

Both tarsiers however died before the environment officials could restore them to their proper homes in Bohol. 

The DENR then had to cancel its release of the wild animal Thursday, which was scheduled to be returned to Bohol after the tarsier died Wednesday afternoon.

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Volunteers, government agencies 
plant trees for Arbor Day activity 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

SIKATUNA, Bohol, July 02, 2013 (PIA) –More than ten national government agencies and socio-civic groups succeeded in planting around 1,600 seedlings of native tree species in less than three hours along tourism highways as Bohol commemorates Arbor Day, June 25. 

The employees and officials earlier gathered at the Sikatuna Tree Park of this town early morning for the ceremonial program at 8:30 and then just as quickly dispersed to troop to their pre-assigned areas along the Sikatuna-Corella, Sikatuna-Alburquerque, Sikatuna-Loboc and Sikatuna-Balilihan highways. 

PIA, DENR, PNP, TESDA, DOST, DOLE, DILG, DA-APC, DepED, COA, CSC and the Provincial Government offices along with other socio civil organizations including Alpha Phi Omega fraternity came forward to respond to the call for volunteers to commemorate that day, as organized by the DENR and DILG. 

The volunteers succeeded in planting around 1600 assorted trees from 8:30-11:00 AM here as the national government agencies set aside few hours of the day for the earth-healing activity. 

All time favorite foliage plant saguimsim, hardy molave, slender anislag, banban, tubog, binunga and bansilay now struggles to overcome the grasses and other vegetation lining along the tourist highway to Loboc, Alburquerque, Balilihan, Baclayon and Corella. 

The DENR provided the endemic seedlings, after learning the lessons the hard way, from the option to use invasive tree species in the country’s greening program. 

Then, government aggressively pushed for red and while mahogany and gmelina species only to find out that these trees ruin the substrates by voraciously sapping up nutrients and water. 

Planted along a sparsely populated stretch of tourism highway leading to a short route from the Tarsiers Conservation, to Sikatuna Tree Park and off to Loboc Floating Restaurants, “the trees would soon be providing ample shade along the route,” environment authorities said. 

Over the problem of trees soaring high and endangering power lines, Tito Jala, a volunteer from a local community-based forest management group said only now tall growing foliage species are planted under power cables. 

Volunteers also opt for trees that do not grow big and later destroy house yards in populated areas, molaves are best left out in larges spaces, he added. 

Unlike the previous activities, Roger Paler of the local DENR office said this year’s arbor day tree-planting also binds the organizations joining the activity to ensure there is a high survival rate for the trees which are also commonly growing in the areas. 

The activity is mandated by RA 10176 which revives the observance of the arbor day, by authorizing local government units the responsibilities for celebrating the day for tree-planting as an annual event. 

On that same day, local government units who have organized themselves for the annual activities trooped to identified reforestation sites and greening areas. 

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PPOC asks PDEA to enlighten 
on its organizational manning 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 02, 2013 (PIA) –The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is he lead anti-illegal drugs law enforcement agency in Bohol, but how can it do so with four men using up their time sitting in courts and doing desk jobs? 

Put your money where your mouth is. Or at least that is how the Provincial Peace and Order Council sees, when appraising the extent of the illegal drug affectation here and the effect of the ongoing government campaign to curb or to finally seal off Bohol from illegal drugs. 

In the meeting held last week at the Jjs Seafoods Restaurant, a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) confidential agent reported that the agency in Bohol is mandated to spearhead and coordinate with other law enforcement agencies in the enforcement of illegal drug laws. 

But key PPOC member and Provincial Prosecutor Macario Delusa pointed out that PDEA’s “monitoring” is not even in the active sense of the word. 

“Their involvement seldom go as far as issuing control numbers,” Delusa revealed. 

The PDEA, through the agent admitted their lack of manpower as the culprit behind their inability to effectively pursue drug operations on their own. 

The agent admitted before the council that PDEA in Bohol has only 3 personnel and 1 is currently on leave. 

With the few agents that they have, their agents also have court duties, testifying against narcotic offenders, further depleting warm bodies pursuing drug criminals. 

While fiscal Delusa said the operation now generally denting on the drug menace is largely police work, PDEA is only involved by their issuing control numbers. Beyond that, the narcotic agency could hardly keep up. 

If not for the control number which PDEA issues for every anti-drug operation, the PDEA may have very little accomplishments, a council member who is privy to PDEA operations shared. 

Over this, Delusa moves for the council to adopt a resolution asking the PDEA to add additional manpower to its offices, especially in Bohol. 

But before the motion could even be considered, another member pushed a motion inviting the PDEA Regional Director to the next council meeting so the council could be enlightened on the PDEA operational procedures. This was carried. 

Moreover, Romeo Teruel, Local Monitoring Board Chair also proposed for the council to craft a special body engaged in reviewing the Dangerous Drugs Law so that necessary amendments could be introduced to the Congressman and then to higher legislative bodies. 

Governor Edgar Chatto agreed with the motion saying that a review on the laws creating the PDEA and other applicable laws on the implementation of anti-drugs programs. 

“It is our interest in strengthening the institution that was mandated to spearhead the fight against drugs,” Chatto remarked. 

The governor said, “We are trying to understand how our local governance can strengthen the teeth on law enforcement as we are a little bit concerned over reports that PDEA here has not gone out of the monitoring stage.” 

“In the absence of any more force, the PDEA and the PNP should be in the forefronts,” Chatto stressed.

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Tourism stakeholders preview TCP 
Visayas Consultation set here July 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 02, 2013 (PIA) –Boholano tourism industry stakeholders had a brief preview and teaser of the upcoming Tourism Congress of the Philippines Visayas Conference and Consultative Meeting set here in Bohol on July 26, 2013. 

During a Pre-Consultative Meeting and press conference to drumbeat the huge event June 24, Congress convenors personally came to the Bohol Tropics Resort, and engaged tourism stakeholders in dialogues to iron out key issues affecting tourism here, in a unified effort to make the Philippines globally competitive in tourism. 

At the Tropics event this week, Tourism Congress Philippines (TCP) President Celine Clemente cited the tourism development in Bohol as the already a victory of the Tourism Congress Philippines, which the tourism industry planners in the country hope to push to make the Philippines globally competitive. 

The Visayas conference however attempts to regionalize the national government focus on competitiveness and growth as part of the over-all vision of a competitive Philippine Tourism. 

At her message prior to the press conference, Clemente acknowledged Governor Edgar Chatto, who, while sitting in Congress, was among the authors of the Tourism Act of 2009, which is now considered the bible of the tourism industry in the country, and which legally conceived the TCP. 

She said the TCP is a private sector group mandated by law as a consultative body to the Department of Tourism, created through the Tourism Act of 2009 (Republic Act 9593) which declared the national policy for tourism as engine for investment, employment, growth and national development. 

Calling the law the most important tourism document, she also remarked that the same law mandates the consultative body to assist the government in the development, implementation and coordination of the national tourism policies. 

At the upcoming Visayas Consultative Forum, discussions, dialogues and Philippine Competitiveness in the aspect of Region 6, 7 and 8 preparations as well as in responding to the opportunities and challenges in the tourism in the region in preparation of the ASEAN integration in 2015, Bohol TCP coordinator Walter Sultan said. 

Last week, a mini congress complete with representatives from key tourism sectors: accommodations enterprises, travel and tour services, land, air and sea tourist transport services, conventions meetings and incentive travel and exhibits events service providers, tourism estate development and management services as well as other accredited tourism enterprises engaged TCP bigwigs in a healthy consultative forum. 

At the dialogs, issues which surfaced include tourism concerns like colorum transport services, implementation of environmental laws pertaining to tourism establishments, the state of tourism hubs, including Pier 1 in Cebu which serves Bohol tourists, Tagbilaran airport and roles of LGUs in products packaging and marketing. 

A bigger consultative dialog for industry workers await Bohol delegates to the TCP at the Ballevue Hotel next month. 

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Diplomacy averts tragedy 
for Bohol tourism via Ojet 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 02, 2013 (PIA) –Skillful back negotiations and diplomacy by local officials averted a tragedy for Bohol as a battle between two giants would have left Bohol tourism trampled and possibly dead. 

Oceanjet Ferries (Ojet), the fastcraft company that offers about six regular boatloads of tourists from Cebu to Bohol was in a verge of suspending their trips, as the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) booted the company out of their Pier 1 hub. 

Told to transfer to Pier 4 in the soonest time, a key OceanJet authority said the pullout would mess with the company’s electronic booking system, which would further end in ruining the company’s name. 

During the consultative dialog of tourism stakeholders in Bohol as a teaser to the upcoming Tourism Philippines Congress in Bohol in July, Boholano tourism stakeholders were in for an big surprise. 

“Oceanjet is suspending its six trips to Bohol indefinitely,” according to the ferry’s vice president for operations, Gene Lastimado. 

“We have more than 300 satellite offices feeding bookings to our base in Pier 1,” Lastimado explained. 

Pulling the system out would mean time to reinstall it to a new location, which would mess with our services, so we would rather suspend the trips while fixing the new base, he told the governor before Visayas Tourism Congress bigwigs. 

The sad news compounds Bohol tourism stakeholders’ troubles caused by the current reduction of airplane flights in Bohol from Manila. 

Lastimado bared that OceanJet, which operates from Pier 1 of the CPA, was ordered to vacate within 72 hours, to a new location at Pier 4, which has a relatively better passenger terminal. 

But Lastimado said the move would necessitate OceanJet to also pull out its online-systems and electronic data processing center from its present hub. 

“This [suspension of trips] would be for a month, at least,” Lastimado told dazed tourism stakeholders forum participants. 

Acting on the impending problem, Chatto started wheels of coordination churning, if only to arrive at a win-win solution for OceanJet and Bohol. 

Sources who refused to be named said that Chatto started negotiating with Ojet competitor to fill in the gap which OceanJet would leave vacant. 

Also, Chatto contacted Maritime Industry Authority’s help to seek more avenues. 

Further arrangements led to OceanJet’s transfer to Pier 3, (instead of pier 4) upon MARINA and other concerned governments suggestion, and the pulling out of the computer system from Pier 1 to Pier 3 happened in less than 3 days. 

Now, Oceanjet continues its trips to Bohol from a new hub in Pier 3, tourism stakeholder Lourdes Sultan said, a move that had the fast-craft company running its operations since Thursday.

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Anti-dengue drives to 
Engage communities 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, July 02, 2013 (PIA) –The prospect of a 51% increase in dengue cases in 2013 and after five deaths and 776 cases here, Bohol local officials re-launched the anti-dengue campaign anew, with a focus on the revitalization of the 4 o clock habit. 

A campaign strategy which the Department of Health (DOH) adopted in 1996, 4 o clock habit engages community members to actively cooperate and participate in the search and destroy mosquito breeding places. 

While Bohol has seen a decline in dengue affectation years back, the threat again buzzed anew, with a noted annual cycle bringing in unusually high number of victims. 

The DOH recently issued a memorandum detailing this year’s campaign theme “Stop, Look and Listen, Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue (ABKD) Pagtibayin.” 

In the memorandum, assistant health secretary Enrique A. Tayag said, stop at 4 PM, look inside and outside your house to search and destroy possible mosquito breeding places and listen to Barangay officials on how to prevent dengue in tour area and join ABKD activities. 

During the re-launching which was held at the Plaza Rizal June 27, Board Member Cesar Tomas Lopez pointed out the failure in Bohol campaign as the lack of community involvement in the campaign. 

Lopez, who is a doctor, also said poor environmental management of household wastes contribute largely to the proliferation of dengue carrying mosquitoes. 

To the problem, Dr. Lopez revealed that the governor is issuing directives to local government units for them to initiate activities and mandate the 4 o clock habit. 

For his part, as Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Health Chair, Dr. Lopez added that he would pass enabling resolutions to engage communities in the campaign. 

As to impress the urgency of the move, Lopez cited statistics which showed that current trends tend to show that there is a probability that dengue affectation in the Visayas is going to increase by 51%. 

This is also over the fact that the National Capital Region and Metro Manila enjoys a 65% decrease in cases while another populated city, Quezon records a 77% decrease in dengue. 

With no cure discovered and not vaccine yet developed to prevent the disease, dengue has now caused alarm of local officials, Lopez said. 

By epidemiology and pathology, the disease thrives on areas where there are breeding sites of mosquitoes and the areas offer perfect hiding areas for the disease carrying mosquitoes, so all we need to do is deny them these breeding sites. 

On the other hand, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reymoses Cabagnot, in a chance interview said by religiously doing 4’ o clock habit, we should be able to reduce the number of mosquitoes, and this reduce if not totally eliminate the disease.

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